Free USA Shipping on $75+ • Free Returns

Search our shop

Craig Jones: Jiu Jitsu Stats, Important Fights, and More

One of the most exciting, and sometimes controversial, fighters in the world of Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) today is Craig Jones. You may have heard about him for the first time when he announced his own jiu jitsu tournament (more on that later), but he’s actually been on the radar for several years, both because of his excellent grappling and his big personality. In this profile, you’ll get a full rundown of his early years in BJJ, his rise to fame, notable accomplishments, some of his most memorable fights, signature grappling style, and some of the controversy swirling around him. 

The Early Years

Born in Adelaide, Australia, on July 17, 1991, Craig Jones first started training BJJ at his cousin’s gym (ISOHEALTH BJJ) in 2006, when he was 15.  Jones has said that he originally wanted to be a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter and only trained jiu jitsu a couple times a week. 

Everything changed for him while on a vacation to America when he was 21. He entered the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation’s (IBJJF) San Francisco Open in February of 2013 and ended up winning gold in his division as a purple belt, which he found surprising given how little he trained jiu jitsu. 

Hoping to repeat his success, he dedicated himself to training hard before trying his luck at the IBJJF Pan Am where Hunter Ewald submitted him with a straight ankle lock within the first 30 seconds of the fight. Jones credits this loss as the rude awakening he needed to motivate him to start training jiu jitsu full time back in Australia.

Throughout 2013 and 2014, he continued to compete successfully as a purple belt, winning several Australian state championship titles in both gi and nogi, as well as the National American Grappling Association (NAGA) World Championship title (April 2014).

After qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) Worlds 2015 competition by winning the Asia and Oceania trials in Korea in 2014 (having sold his car to pay for the trip!), Jones prepared at a training camp in Melbourne with Lachlan Giles, an Australian BJJ black belt who is himself a skilled grappler and highly successful competitor. Although Craig Jones lost his first ADCC Worlds’ match quickly, the experience of training with Giles at what would later become Absolute MMA convinced him to move to Melbourne. 

From Gi to Nogi

While still a purple belt in November 2015, Craig Jones took a huge step forward by winning the IBJJF World Nogi Championship. His dominant performance resulted in Lachlan Giles promoting him to brown belt and taking him on as a regular coach and instructor at Absolute MMA. Recognizing his growing skills, Giles then promoted Jones to black belt in 2016.

Although he had previously done most of his training and a lot of competing in gi, Jones shifted his focus to nogi while at Absolute MMA. He was inspired by what he saw happening in America with BJJ practitioners like Gordon Ryan and Eddie Cummings in the so-called Danaher Death Squad (see below) and competitions like the Eddie Bravo invitationals (EBI) and realized that teaching and competing in nogi was the best way to actually make a living off the sport he loved. 

Rising Star in 2017

In early 2017, Craig Jones was still relatively unknown, but that was about to change. At EBI 11 in March 2017, Jones impressed the BJJ community with unexpected submission wins over tournament favorite Nathan Orchard (heel hook in the first 15 seconds) and Darragh O’Conaill (kneebar). Vagner Rocha, a veteran of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), eventually beat Jones in the finals in overtime, but Jones’ grappling and submission skills were evident throughout the tournament.

Having once again secured a spot for the ADCC Worlds 2017 in Finland (this time, by winning the Asia and Oceania trials in Kazakhstan in 2016), Craig Jones’ first match of the tournament was against Leandro Lo, a highly decorated black belt and favorite to win the tournament. Against all odds, Jones submitted Lo with a rear naked choke, and followed up by submitting his next opponent, Murilo Santana, with a flying triangle. These stunning upsets shocked the BJJ world and drew a lot of attention.

Craig Jones lost his next two weight division matches, which kept him off the podium. However, the ADCC organizers invited him to participate in the absolute weight division against UFC vet Chael Sonnen. Craig agreed and ended up submitting Sonnen with a heel hook before losing to Gordon Ryan in his next match.

Without a doubt, his outstanding performance at ADCC Worlds 2017 raised his status and made the BJJ world take notice. 

Making a Name for Himself

Jones stayed busy on the competition circuit over the next few years (2018-2022), racking up several impressive wins, many of them submissions, over established competitors like Jake Shields, Mason Fowler, Nicholas Meregali, Vagner Rocha, Gilbert Burns, Rousimar Palhares, Roberto Jimenez, and Keenan Cornelius, among others.

Notable achievements during this period include: 

  • Polaris Champion at 185 lbs (2018/2019)
  • 3rd place Kasai 2 Grand Prix at 185 lbs (2018)
  • Polaris Champion at 205 lbs (2018) 
  • 3rd place Kasai 5 Grand Prix at 205 lbs (2019) 
  • 2nd place ADCC World Championships (2019)
  • 2nd place ADCC World Championships (2022)

Danaher Death Squad

Having previously competed against various members of the Danaher Death Squad (a group of grapplers who trained under legendary coach John Danaher and represented Renzo Gracie New York) over the years, Jones eventually moved to New York to become part of the team in 2019.

Known for developing his own system of leg locks and lower-body attacks, Danaher coached well-known athletes like Gordon and Nicky Ryan, Eddie Cummings, Garry Tonon, and Nick Rodriguez to numerous championship titles across several organizations (e.g., ADCC, IBJJF, EBI, etc.) over the years.

In 2020, Danaher left Renzo Gracie’s gym and moved to Puerto Rico with his team (including Craig Jones), stating his intention to open his own gym. However, in July of the following year Danaher announced that the team was splitting up instead, due to personality conflicts. He moved to Austin, Texas, and formed a new team called New Wave Jiu Jitsu with his students Gordon Ryan and Gary Tonon. Other Danaher Death Squad members also moved to Austin to open a gym under the name “B-Team” (see below).

The B-Team is Born

Craig Jones and other former Danaher Death Squad teammates Nicky Ryan, Nick Rodriguez, and Ethan Crelinsten opened B-Team Jiu Jitsu in late 2021. According to their website, the B-Team combines wrestling with submission grappling and thrives on innovation and creativity and moving BJJ forward.

To outside observers, B-Team Jiu Jitsu seems more focused on building the BJJ community at large and having an open, fun, welcoming environment and innovative approaches to BJJ than New Wave Jiu Jitsu, which is more inward focused. Their name and motto (“When you can’t train with the A team, you get the B team”) display the tongue-in-cheek humor and laid back style of the founding members, especially Craig Jones, who calls himself “Second Best in Everything” and refers to BJJ as “Mexican Ground Karate”.

Grappling Style

So what makes Craig Jones so successful? Craig Jones has a very aggressive, exciting, submission-forward grappling style. To date, he has an 82 percent submission rate, which is incredibly high, especially given the caliber of his opponents. The majority of his submission wins have come via heel hooks, which he said he first learned from watching YouTube, although it’s clear that his time training with the Danaher Death Squad also improved his lower body submission game. He also has significant wins via rear naked choke

Stirring the Pot

Craig Jones has never been one to shy away from attention. He’s incredibly active on social media and gives numerous interviews in which he doesn’t pull any punches. The following are some of the more well-known controversies in which he’s been embroiled.

Feud with Gordon Ryan

His ongoing feud with former teammate Gordon Ryan has played out all over social media the last couple years, with Jones poking fun at Gordon Ryan and openly mocking his health struggles. In return, Ryan has accused Jones of associating with a Ukrainian nationalist group with neo-Nazi ties and also derided Jones’ inability to “win a single tournament of note.” Gordon Ryan is also quick to point out that he has submitted Jones all three times they have competed against each other.

Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) 

Jones has been open about his PED use, but more recently, he went so far as to publicly release information about his specific dosages (both daily and weekly). Although steroid use has been an open secret in grappling for years, Jones believes his straightforward take on the subject will help younger athletes take a safer approach to PEDs because they will be more informed.

Alex Jones

Polarizing, right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones appeared on Craig Jones’ podcast (“El Segundo Podcast”) in September of 2023. During the broadcast, Alex Jones asked Craig Jones to choke him. Craig Jones complied, locking in a rear naked choke that rendered the Info Wars host unconscious.

Taking Aim at the ADCC

Most recently, Craig Jones has ignited a war with the ADCC by announcing the inaugural Craig Jones Invitational (or CJI), hosted by the Fair Fight Foundation and scheduled for August 16 and 17, the same dates as the prestigious ADCC World Championships 2024. Billed as the highest paying grappling event in history, CJI quickly lured several high-level competitors away from ADCC. It’s tough to pass up a chance to win the million dollar prize. 

Although he himself has found success at ADCC competitions, Jones has previously criticized the ADCC for only offering fighters $10,000 in prize money. Given the hours that athletes spend training and the cost of traveling to compete, many athletes face significant sacrifices to chase their dreams of ADCC gold. 

In direct contrast, CJI is offering athletes $10,001 just to compete, and one million to win. To make the event accessible to fans, he will be streaming it live on YouTube. 

It’s not just better athlete pay either. Craig Jones has several stated goals to improve the competition aspect of BJJ, including a different mat with slanted walls that prevents competitors from purposely going out of bounds; better accessibility for fans through streaming events free on YouTube; and a different scoring system that will be easier to understand. 

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Craig Jones keeps things interesting. His self-deprecating humor and often shockingly honest views on the sport of BJJ can be refreshing, and his aggressive grappling style is electric to watch. Time will tell if his efforts to change the system pay off.