Craig Jones BJJ – From Zero To Hero

Craig Jones
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Did you watch the latest edition of ADCC? How about Eddie Bravo Invitational 14? If so, could you point what both events had in common? Let me help you a little bit –  it’s a highly impressive and very unexpected performance. Let me help you even further – it’s not Gordon Ryan. All props to him, as he was in both of those BJJ events and did admirably. Ryan, however, was not the underdog. The person that came from seemingly nowhere and took the BJJ world by surprise is Craig Jones.

Ok, in all fairness, Craig Jones was not a complete unknown. After all, he did fight at the ADCC, didn’t he? But he is a fairly new BJJ sensation, on that first caught attention at EBI 11- The welterweight. As are most things Australian, the humble looking grappler is a dangerous and extremely lethal predator. But, how did he come to be such an accomplished BJJ athlete and where was he hiding all this time?

Craig Jones BJJ – The Early Days

Jones was born on July 17, 1991, in Adelaide, South Australia. Ever since early childhood, he was interested in sports. Although his first sporting adventures included football and basketball, he soon abandoned them for martial arts. Instead, Craig turned to Judo and Taekwondo, albeit briefly. As a teenager, he discovered MMA and that seemed to fit him better than the traditional arts.

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With dreams of becoming a UFC world champion, 15-year-old Craig Jones enrolled in a BJJ academy run by his cousin. At the ISOHEALTH Academy, under the tutelage of Matt Jones, Craig started making a name for himself in the local grappling scene. When he reached purple belt, Craig migrated to the Maromba BJJ Academy in Melbourne. This academy later morphed into Absolute MMA which is his home base to this day.

In 2015 Jones received his brown belt from Lachlan Giles after an eye-catching IBJJF Worlds performance. It is around the same time that he got to teaching full time in Melbourne. After just one year, Giles gave Craig Jones BJJ black belt.

Despite being completely dedicated to BJJ, Craig Jones also has a degree in Psychology, more specific in Behavioural Science.

Craig Jones BJJ Career

Before Craig Jones became known to the world, he did build a name for himself in Australia. His BJJ endeavors prior to his groundbreaking ADCC performance are no easy feat. His first magnificent burst on to the BJJ scene was thanks to his performance at the 2015 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds. He defeated every opponent in impressive fashion, earning the title of world champion.  The enigmatic 26-year-old later said that he trained with a small group of friends in his living room, but still dominated everyone. Moreover, he got bronze in the 2016 UAEJJF Abu Dhabi Pro, as well as an invitation to EBI.

The success of Craig Jones is largely due to his tight and elaborate game. His BJJ is as high level as it gets. As the BJJ world now knows, he is a leg locks specialist that needs only seconds to finish a heel hook. Despite his favoritism towards leg locks, Jones is not one to exclude other aspects of BJJ. Apart from also having an outstanding Z-Guard, he is a very well rounded BJJ athlete. His game is submission heavy, which is no surprise given that he prefers No-Gi. In leg locking terms, he has innovated to great success, as witnessed by his victories. The crucial points of his game can be found on this DVD.

Furthermore, Craig’s mind is as fascinating as his technical abilities, which is what makes him such a BJJ standout. He able to perform well under any rule set, regardless of weight divisions. Jones also spends lots of time studying tape and attending seminars to broaden his game. His work ethic is exemplary. Craig Jones takes pride in performing extremely well under enormous pressure. That Psychology degree seems to be paying off in the end, doesn’t it?

EBI 11 – Introducing Craig Jones

Before his ADCC escapade, Craig Jones caught the eye performing well at EBI 11. The eleventh edition of Eddie Bravo’s Invitational featured BJJ welterweights and was held in LA. Despite not getting to the finals, Jones put in some great performances along the ride.

Back then, he was a recently promoted black belt and a huge underdog. That did not prevent the Australian BJJ phenom to pull off to major upsets. First, he submitted Eddie Bravo’s highly regarded black belt, Nathan Orchard in the very first round. Then, Jones went on to beat Darragh O’Conaill. Ultimately, Vagner Rocha stopped the Aussie’s run via fastest escape in the semifinal overtime.

Despite the ultimately unsuccessful run, Craig Jones did catch worldwide attention. All this before his true breakthrough on the global BJJ scene.

That ADCC Performance

First, let’s note that Jones was no stranger to ADCC competition. He initially won the Asia and Oceania ADCC Trials at purple belt, qualifying for ADCC 2015. His run in that competition was a short one, as he came up against BJJ World Champion Romulo Barral in the -88 kg division. As Craig Jones put it himself “at that point in my jiu-jitsu, he would have smashed me on my best day.”

This did not discourage the 26-year-old and he was back for another try in 2017. Once again, his path took him through the Asia and Oceania ADCC Trials, which he once again won. His ADCC performance in 2017, on the other hand, could not have been more different than his previous one.

In the first round of the most elite No-Gi BJJ competition in the world, Jones was up against Leandro Lo. An impossible match for any BJJ competitor, Jones approached the fight calmly and technically. His reward was a submission victory over a legend of the sport of BJJ. He did not stop there, however, adding one more scalp to his collection, in the form of another submission win, this time over Murilo Santana. HIs ADCC trip came to a  halt in the semi-finals when he faced Keenan Cornelius. His rise to stardom, though, had just started.

EBI 14 – The Almost Champion

Not long after ADCC, Jones got an invite to re-appear at EBI, this time in the event’s Absolute division. Once again demonstrating his BJ Jversatility, welterweight Craig Jones took less than 2 minutes to heel hook three very heavier opponents, thus reaching the final.

The final of EBI 14 was a very entertaining match between two of the world’s best. One was our enigmatic Aussie, while the other was multiple EBI champion and ADCC champ, Gordon Ryan. Jones managed to get the match into overtime, where he got within touching distance of the EBI championship belt. He had Ryan in one of the tightest armbars the BJJ world has ever seen. To his full merit, though, Ryan escaped, but not without damage to the arm, and subsequently won the match and the title.

Although once again coming up short, Craig Jones is far from being finished. At 26 years of age, he has all the time in the world. And he is improving by leaps and bound, beating legends along the way. Not bad for a virtual nobody who doesn’t get to train with world champion level black belts on a daily basis. Ladies and gentlemen, keep an eye out for Craig Jones, who is heel hooking his way from zero to hero!

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