The Rise of Craig Jones and the World of Submission Grappling

The Times They Are A Changin’ -Bob Dylan

The world of NoGi Submission Grappling just got disrupted with a duffel bag containing $1,000,000!

And the beautiful thing about this shocking disruption is that the million dollars will be given to a winning competitor at a submission grappling event and not to any promoters.

Furthermore, an even greater twist is that all of this stems from one individual: Craig Jones.

Several weeks back Craig Jones claimed that he was organizing a tournament called the Craig Jones Invitational (CJI). He would be giving 1 million dollars cash to individuals who won his tournament. If anyone had any doubts regarding Jones’ claim, concerns were quickly dispelled when Jones walked onto the Joe Rogan Experience and from a duffel bag, dumped out a million dollars in cold, hard cash.

Joe Rogan exclaimed in stunned wonderment, “I’ve never seen a million dollars!” Thus was born the Craig Jones Invitational with the radical idea of giving 1 Million dollars in cash to the winner of the tournament! In addition, any competitor invited to compete in the Craig Jones Invitational will receive $10,001 just to show up. ADCC competitors only receive $10,000 if they get first place. So the CJI is stacked with ca$h incentives for its competitors.

Craig Jones set up his invitational in a unique format. There will be only two weight brackets: Under 80Kg and over 80Kg. That’s it. Can anyone say Hallelujah!

And finally, the cherry on the top is that the Craig Jones Invitational and the ADCC Submission World Championship will be going head-to-head on the same weekend. Craig Jones’s decision to schedule the CJI on the same date as the ADCC tournament was strategic: Jones wanted to draw a line as to whom the competitors and fans support. It’s clear why athletes are gravitating toward CJI: better pay for their hard work.

But a deeper look into this whole situation prompts a question that resonates through every Jiu Jitsu academy and Submission Grappling school around the world: Why haven’t the competitors been paid more money than the paltry sum they are given now?

The current prizes are almost like opening a vintage Cracker Jack box that promises a “Prize Inside.” And the prize is some cheap medal or a nice shiny belt or a nominal amount of money. Which is just enough to pay for the gas to the event and a happy clown cheese burger. Not much.

The Craig Jones Invitational (CJI) aims to address a significant issue in jiu-jitsu and submission grappling: World class grapplers are not being compensated fairly for their skill and effort. It’s hard to have a standard job when you’re training twice a day. In addition, competitors endure immense physical strain and require healthy food, expensive supplements and massage and chiropractic work to reach world-class levels. Yet their remunerative compensation usually falls short. Considering the huge toll that jiu jitsu and submission grappling does to the body, it is helpful that individuals like Craig Jones are helping grapplers to make a wage that is worthy of their efforts.

Ironically, ADCC’s prize money for its competitors hasn’t changed in many years. Yet ADCC’s promoters continue to spend more on production and venue cost, but the vintage prize money for first place is still a paltry $10,000.

Jones’ Instagram and his B Team YouTube page has blown up with support from thousands of jiu jitsu competitors and fans, supporting his primary focus to give the competitors greater remuneration. Craig Jones has also criticized ADCC’s decision to move from the Thomas & Mack Center to the T-Mobile Arena which increases production costs and takes away the possibility of giving greater compensation to the fighters.

And if that isn’t enough, the clearest evidence of CJI’s success is its present list of competitors. Many of these competitors have already competed in ADCC and have capitulated to compete for the enormous winning boon that CJI promises. And yet, each competitor is given $10,001 just to compete at Craig Jones’ tournament and by doing so, they have already surpassed any potential winnings they might have received from ADCC!

Under 80KG Lineup:

Tye Ruotolo

Kade Ruotolo

Andy Varela

Jason Nolf

Levi Jones-Leary

Tommy Langaker

Eoghan O’Flanagan

Matheuz Diniz Renato Canuto

Nicky Ryan

Joseph Chen

Andrew Tackett

Lucas Barbosa

Over 80KG Lineup:

Adam Bradley

Nicky Rodriguez

Max Gimenis

Owen Livesey

Victor Hugo

Felipe Andrew

Mason Fowler

Luke Rockhold

William Tackett

João Gabriel Rocha

Roberto Jimenez

Pat Downey

Inacio Santos

Pedro Alex

And so my friends, in the final analysis, we must quote Shakespeare, the Bard himself with these visionary words:

To B or Not To B, that is the question -William Shakespeare

See you at CJI and ADCC in August!


One Response

  1. A nice analysis of the situation from the perspective of the competitors, which should drive success to some extent in the different organizations. Mr. Jones’ efforts in social media to draw positive attention are also telling.
    I wonder how much differing rule sets and judging criteria also have an effect. At some point, if sport Jiu jitsu does not succeed (at least to some extent) as a spectator sport the available money will dry up.

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