Craig Jones reveals why he asked to face Rafael Lovato Jr.

Craig Jones explained why he asked to face Rafael Lovato Jr. at the upcoming UFC Fight Pass Invitational 6 on March 3.

Elite no-gi competitor Craig Jones is set to take on veteran Rafael Lovato Jr. in the main event of UFC Fight Pass Invitation (UFC FPI) 6 on Sunday, March 3. 

On a recent episode of Jones’ “El Segundo” podcast, he revealed that he’s been looking for a match against Lovato for a while and explained why he wants to face the former IBJJ gi and no-gi world champion.

“I will say it’s a match I’ve tried to book. Promoters have said, ‘Hey who do you want to face?’ I want to face Lovato. And that’s not because I see a strategic weakness in Lovato. If anything, it’s because I checked his age and he’s a little older. You might see that as vulnerability, but my counterargument would be I think we both probably have the same aged heart given the damage and mileage mine has on it. My lifestyle is a great equalizer, it’s the reason we look the same age, me and Lovato. But he is 40 and I’m 32, I think.”

On a more serious note, Jones recognizes Lovato as one of the top athletes he admired when he was younger. 

Indeed, Lovato is one of the most respected and accomplished athletes of his generation. In addition to his IBJJF world titles, the Oklahoma native boasts recent notable victories over the likes of Elder Cruz and Vinicius “Trator” Ferreira.

For Jones, asking to face Lovato is essentially a sign of respect:

“The reason I want this match is because there’s key names that are pivotal when you’re coming up. Sometimes if you ask a grappler who has influenced you the most, it’s gonna be based on who was famous and who was doing well at a lower belt for these guys. 

“Who was a big-name competitor when you were a purple belt? When I was a purple belt, guys like Lovato were, they were the big names of my generation. So for me, when I was a purple belt aspiring professional competitor, those are the names that I was like, ‘Holy f*** it would be sick to have a match against these guys, beat these guys.’ And now, as I get older in the grappling world, these guys are retiring so there’s not too many opportunities for me to face these gentlemen.”

How to watch: The UFC FPI 6: Craig Jones vs. Rafael Lovato Jr. takes place on Sunday, March 3, and will air live on UFC Fight Pass (subscription required).

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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