Craig Jones: The sport is growing ‘in spite of’ Gordon Ryan’s online persona

Craig Jones believes that Gordon Ryan’s online persona has not helped grow the sport of no-gi submission grappling.

Craig Jones has a unique perspective on Gordon Ryan and his impact on the sport of submission grappling.

As a former teammate of Ryan’s on the now-defunct Danaher Death Squad, Jones is personally familiar with the multiple-time ADCC world champion. As a longtime veteran of the elite no-gi competitive scene, Jones is also well-positioned to comment on the sport and its evolution.

In a recent appearance on the “Jibber with Jabber” podcast, the popular Australian grappler spoke about a wide variety of topics – including Ryan’s contribution to the sport of grappling.

While Jones is quick to credit Ryan as the top pound-for-pound no-gi competitor, he says that his former teammate’s online persona – marked by a torrent of far right-wing political posts and insults hurled toward other BJJ competitors – hasn’t contributed to the growth of no-gi grappling.

Jones said:

“Obviously Gordon, I think, best grappler. As a person, pretty strange. Pretty strange guy, I think. I think a lot of his schtick online, I think he has helped grow the sport, but I don’t think it has got anything to do with the schtick he puts on. I think the sport is growing in spite of it, not because of it. I don’t think his political views or some of the negative things he said has helped the sport at all. Some of his trash talk has because inevitably that makes you interested in seeing the match. But the whole personality, I don’t think. I think he would have been huge if he was just a nice guy, as well.”

Check out the full interview below.

Jones and Ryan have met three times in competition, with Ryan winning all three.

Jones most recently competed at the UFC Fight Pass Invitational 6 where he picked up a quick submission win over veteran Rafael Lovato Jr. He is slated to next compete at Pit Submission Series 4 in Abu Dhabi on April 20 when he will take on UFC standout Rinat Fakhretdinov.

Ryan, meanwhile, has been out of competition since a 2023 victory over Patrick Gaudio. He has competed just two times since winning both the heavyweight and superfight titles at the 2022 ADCC World Championships. 

Earlier this year, Ryan announced an extended leave of absence from competition due to ongoing health concerns, but he still plans to compete at the 2024 ADCC World Championships in August.

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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