Jackson Wink MMA Academy is listening to naming rights offers for the gym’s famous Albuquerque, New Mexico, location, according to gym co-founder Greg Jackson, who announced the news in a report from AP News.
The AP noted that Jackson has not specified a price range, but he clarified that the rights include a sponsor’s ability to put their name on the Jackson Wink facility, its logos, and in all of the gym’s advertisements.
Jackson said of the decision to make naming rights available, “It’s something we’ve been talking about for a while now… We are exploring our options, and we think we can give a partner a lot of exposure around the world because of our reputation. There are a lot of eyes on this place.”
It’s true; the gym is one of the most prominent MMA academies in the world and sports a decorated roster of former and current fighters in its ranks, most notably UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones (25-1, 1 NC).
Jackson’s decision to make naming rights available for the gym comes at an opportunistic time, as the gym is poised for a likely surge in attention.
Jackson Wink staples Jones and former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm (12-5) are both set to fight in the next several weeks, with Holm facing fellow former title challenger Raquel Pennington (10-7) at UFC 246 in January and Jones is set to headline UFC 247 in February.
Both fighters’ strong ties to Jackson Wink are sure to be featured in promotional buildups to their respective fights, and the UFC is known to showcase a fighter’s gym on shows like “UFC Embedded,” which garner hundreds of thousands of views online.
Additionally, the UFC and Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA), one of the country’s top regional promotions, will be bringing high-profile MMA events to Jackson Wink’s backyard.
The UFC will promote a rematch with title implications between light heavyweights Jan Blachowicz (28-5) and Corey Anderson (13-4) in nearby Rio Rancho, New Mexico, in February of 2020, and LFA will kick off its 2020 campaign in Albequerque on January 17.
The LFA event, in particular, could be enticing to potential sponsors. Unlike the UFC, LFA allows its athletes to walk out with large banners used to display the fighters’ likeness, nationality, gym, and many sponsors. The event will also feature a host of local talent, including several Jackson Wink fighters.
Notably, the event will be headlined by Steve Garcia, Jr. (10-3), a top Jackson Wink featherweight prospect, and will feature the return of former champion, Ultimate Fighter contestant, and Jackson Wink standout Damacio Page (20-10).
The timing of the naming rights decision could also signal troubling times for the gym, however.
In recent months, Jackson Wink has been the subject of several controversies, with various notable fighters airing grievances with, or outright leaving, the gym.
Most infamously, UFC star Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (36-13) blasted his former academy and what he claims it has become. “When Winkeljohn merged over, all the big pros left, it turned into a puppy mill,” Cerrone said on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast back in August.
“Literally at the new gym, bums come in off the street — I swear to God — and will come in and put stuff on and fight. That’s a true story. Random bums off the street. That would never happen back in the day,” he added.
Cerrone’s comments came on the heels of his break with Jackson Wink over a perceived slight leading up to his fight with Mike Perry (13-5), who was training at Jackson Wink at the time. Cerrone claimed that Winkeljohn opted to train with Perry, not the longstanding Jackson Wink staple, Cerrone, after the UFC’s all-time winningest fighter raised doubts about training at the same facility – and with the same coaches and training partners – as his opponent.
Sanchez and perennial UFC featherweight contender Cub Swanson are two other notable departures from the gym in recent memory. Sanchez addressed the matter publically, pointing to what he perceived as a lack of personal attention and innovation.
“But come fight time, you’d get a couple mitt sessions with Winkeljohn, never really learning anything, just kind of tuning up what I already had. With Greg Jackson, it was maybe one or two privates a camp, but never really any true love – the type of love that a trainer should have for his fighter,” Sanchez told MMAJunkie in June, though he noted he had “[n]othing but respect for Winkeljohn and Greg… I am grateful and I express a huge amount of gratitude right now to both Mike Winkeljohn, to Greg Jackson, to Jackson’s MMA.”
It will be interesting to see how the naming rights process goes for Jackson Wink MMA, and whether or not the idea for an overarching gym sponsor takes root in the MMA world.
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.