Craig Jones is an Australian grappler and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Lachlan Giles, who worked extensively with coach John Danaher, being a big part of the famous Danaher Death Squad (DDS) competition team, led by Danaher during the late 2010s-to-early-2020s decades. Craig represented the B-Team, a workgroup started by Jones, alongside a few of his former DDS team members in 2021. An International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) World No-Gi Champion (2015 at in purple belt division) and a 2x ADCC Trials champion, Craig Jones turned many heads his way at the 2017 ADCC finals by submitting the tournament’s 88-kilogram #1 pick, Leandro Lo. Jones would later cement his status as one of the best grapplers of his generation by winning numerous prestigious events, including multiple belt titles in the Polaris Invitational promotion.
Craig Jones BJJ – The Early Days
Jones was born on July 17, 1991, in Adelaide, South Australia. Craig Jones age is now 30 years old. Ever since early childhood, he has been 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. Then, as a teenager, he discovered MMA, which seemed to fit him better than the traditional arts.
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 the 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 was around the same time that he got to teaching full time in Melbourne. After just one year, Giles gave Craig Jones BJJ a black belt.
Despite being completely dedicated to BJJ, Craig Jones also has a degree in Psychology, specifically in Behavioural Science.
Craig Jones discovers Jiu-Jitsu
His first exposure to martial arts was at a very early age. Training in both Taekwondo and Judo at a very young age.
Jones wouldn’t get into Jiu-Jitsu until he was fifteen years old, training under his cousin Matt Jones. Being a Jiu-Jitsu athlete really wasn’t a thought at the time, but Craig was a big MMA fan. He was initially getting into Jiu-Jitsu with the idea of becoming a fighter later on.
At the time, Jiu-Jitsu was nowhere as big as it is now in Australia. Where Craig lived, there weren’t very many BJJ tournaments, but he competed when he could.
Even with a limited number of tournaments, he could compete in, Craig Jones would succeed early on. As a result, he is becoming one of the more known lower belts at the time.
This led Craig to start having more aspirations within Jiu-Jitsu.
Craig Jones joins Absolute MMA
After having successful runs at white and blue belt, Matt Jones would give Craig his purple belt. He would then spend a vacation in the United States, where he decided to compete in tournaments while visiting.
Jones was shocked to see how popular Jiu-Jitsu was becoming on the other side of the world—realizing that he could make a career out of competing.
Upon returning to Australia, Craig would decide to move to Melbourne, where there were more opportunities for him in Jiu-Jitsu.
In Melbourne, Jones would begin training with Lachlan Giles at Maromba Academy. (Renamed Absolute MMA after Jones moved.)
Then at the 2015 IBJJF World No-Gi Championship, Jones would prove that he was the best purple belt in the world. Thus, winning his one and currently only world championship.
Craig Jones BJJ Career
Before Craig Jones became known to the world, he did build a name for himself in Australia. However, his BJJ endeavours prior to his groundbreaking ADCC performance are no easy feat. His first magnificent burst onto the BJJ scene was thanks to his 2015 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds performance. He impressively defeated every opponent, 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 and 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 knows, he is a leg locks specialist who only needs seconds to finish a heel hook. Despite his favouritism 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 his 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 ruleset, 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?
Craig Jones’ ADCC debut
If the BJJ world didn’t take notice of Craig Jones after his EBI 11 performance, they would look at ADCC 2017. He qualified for the 88 kg division, which was stacked with multiple world champions.
His first match would be against reigning IBJJF champion Leandro Lo, who was heavily favoured to win gold. However, Craig would once again shock the world and submit Lo with an RNC.
Craig Jones moves to the US
Since Craig is one of the most active professional grapplers, he is frequently on the road. This would make it hard for him to return to his home in Australia and then travel back to the US.
So, Jones made the difficult choice of relocating to the US. This way, he wouldn’t have to travel nearly as far to make it to his competitions. He didn’t have a home gym in the US and would train, where he travelled during this time.
Craig Jones’ 2020-2021 run
Even with a pandemic shutting down most of the world, this didn’t stop Craig Jones from competing. He would compete primarily on Submission Underground events and the Austin, TX-based Who’s #1 promotion.
In 9 Underground Submission events, Craig would go 9-2. Most notably damaging Vinny Magalhaes after Vinny made the statement leg locks don’t work after beating Gordon Ryan.
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. However, to his full merit, 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 daily. Ladies and gentlemen, keep an eye out for Craig Jones, who is heel hooking his way from zero to hero!
The DDS breakup and formation of the B team
Shortly after the move to Puerto Rico was a failure, DDS would move to Austin, TX. After that, however, it was announced by John Danaher that the DDS were going their separate ways on Instagram.
He, Gordon Ryan, and Garry Tonon would open their own gym. Craig Jones, Nicky Ryan, Nick Rodriguez, and Ethan Crelinstein would open their own school and call it The B Team.
Oddly enough, both gyms are located in Austin, Texas and are only a short distance from one another.
Craig Jones’ legacy
At 31, Craig Jones is at the prime of his career and has only begun to build his legacy. Since 2017, he has been one of the most active competitors in all of Jiu-Jitsu.
Now that he has co-founded his own gym, Jones is ready to continue making his mark in pro grappling. In the future, he’ll be looking to add more wins and titles to his resume.
Frequently Asked Questions about Craig Jones
Craig Jones stands at 6’2 inches tall and is roughly the same size as Gordon Ryan. However, in terms of weight, he typically competes around the 90KG mark, meaning his walkaround weight may be slightly higher (remember, BJJ weight cuts aren’t as intrusive as those practised in MMA).
Like many BJJ practitioners, Jones has put on muscle and size over the years. In his early days as a black belt, he would compete at under 77KG, meaning he was a lightweight. Before this, he was also known as a welterweight and had quite a slim, skinny frame in his earlier years.
Throughout his time training, Craig Jones has been taught by two main coaches. His first was Lachlan Giles which is when he lived in Australia and trained with him. Here, he got his black belt and made a name for himself. He then moved to the USA and married an American woman. After that, he began training with John Danaher in New York City before joining him in Puerto Rico.
After this, he moved to Austin, Texas and began his own gym, meaning like many BJJ black belt practitioners, he is now without an official coach.
Craig Jones currently trains at ‘The B-Team’ in Austin, Texas. This is the gym of Jones, alongside his friends. He previously trained under John Danaher in Puerto Rico and before that trained with Danaher in Renzo Gracie’s gym in New York. Before joining the USA, Jones originally trained under Lachlan Giles for several years in his native Australia.
Craig Jones was born in 1991 and did not get international recognition until his shock ADCC 2017 run, where he tapped out Leandro Lo and Chael Sonnen. Interestingly, most BJJ practitioners who are elite are known in their teens and even during their childhood.
This was not the case for Jones, who was something of a ‘late bloomer’ outside of Australia. Since then, he’s made up for lost time and has become one of the best no-gi grapplers of his generation.
In 2021, Craig Jones broke his hand during a training session. This resulted in him missing out on several high profiles BJJ super fights and competitions. During this time, Jones still trained regularly and at a good pace. However, he would often be seen wearing a bandage around his right hand whilst sparring. Whilst training, when injured, is not advised in BJJ, if you’re a professional like Craig Jones, then it’s understandable.