Mike Winkeljohn Says Mental Toughness Is Anthony Smith’s Greatest Strength


UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones is expected to defend the title against Anthony Smith in the main event of UFC 235.

Mike Winkeljohn is one of Jones’ coaches and he says that Smith’s biggest strength as a fighter is mental toughness.

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“Tough,” Winkeljohn said on The MMA Hour. “Just big balls to keep going. He has the ability to come back, I think the scariest thing about him is just that. As you saw in his last fight with Volkan (Oezdemir), he was behind in my mind, but he knows how to survive and find the right time to do something. I think he started hurting him with body shots and then he had the takedown there at the end. I think it’s his ability, his mental toughness to survive and overcome that’s his greatest strength.”

Smith has been undefeated since moving up to light heavyweight, defeating the trio of Rashad Evans, Mauricio Rua and Volkan Oezdemir.

Winkeljohn says that despite the mental toughness, it is still going to be a hard night for Smith at UFC 235.

“[Smith]’s good at a lot of things,” Winkeljohn said. “It’s his depth and his long range punches, the problem with that is that Jon’s even longer. He has the ability to throw punches at different times, his straight right hand is really, really effective especially in his counter mode against Jon. That’s what I’m worried about. And then he takes people down, there’s no doubt about it. I just think he’s going to have a hard night against Jon Jones, because I think Jon’s better everywhere. But I think his boxing skills are very tight. If I thought anything was going to be scary, it would be that. He’s definitely great everywhere, so we have to be on our toes, but he’s got to deal with Jon’s length and Jon’s ability to adapt.”

UFC 235 takes place on Saturday, March 2 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada with Jon Jones and Anthony Smith potentially headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, with a post-show podcast to follow.

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