Craig Jones vs. Rafael Lovato Jr. to headline UFC FPI 6

Craig Jones will take on Rafael Lovato Jr. in the main event of UFC FPI 6, set to go down on Sunday, March 3.

The UFC Fight Pass Invitational (UFC FPI) is set for its first event of 2024, and a pair of top-tier matchups have already been announced for the card.

On Sunday, March 3, in the main event of UFC FPI 6, two-time ADCC silver medalist Craig Jones will square off with former gi and no-gi world champion Rafael Lovato Jr. Before that, current IBJJF no-gi absolute champion Roberto Jimenez will take on UFC FPI absolute tournament winner Nick Rodriguez.

The promotion announced the matches on social media.

The leader of the B-Team, Jones has firmly established himself as one of the best no-gi competitors in the world. In addition to his pair of silver medals at the ADCC World Championships, the Australian holds recent notable victories over the likes of Richie Martinez, Nicholas Meregali, and – at UFC FPI 4 – Felipe Pena.

Lovato, meanwhile, is one of the sport’s most seasoned competitors. The Oklahoma native won his gold at the 2007 IBJJF Worlds, as well as the 2010 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds. After an impressive, undefeated run in MMA that saw him claim the Bellator middleweight title, Lovato has returned to regular BJJ competition in recent years, picking up key wins over Elder Cruz, Vinicius “Trator” Ferreira, and Ricardo Evangelista.

In 2023, Lovato spoke to Grappling Insider about his renewed, late-career motivations.

The match presents an intriguing stylistic clash. On one side, Jones is a feared submission hunter known for his leg locks, capable of finishing the match at any point from seemingly any position.

Lovato, meanwhile, possesses a simple yet highly effective meat-and-potatoes style that emphasizes guard passing, positional dominance, and finishing from the back.

Roberto Jimenez vs. Nick Rodriguez

The co-main event will see a third match between Jimenez and Rodriguez. The pair first clashed at a Third Coast Grappling event in 2020, with Jimenez winning via decision. Three years later, at UFC FPI 4, Rodriguez avenged that defeat with an EBI overtime victory.

A two-time ADCC silver medalist and Eddie Bravo Invitational champion, Rodriguez is arguably the sport’s top active heavyweight. He is a prodigious athlete with powerful wrestling, world-class guard passing, and an ever-evolving submission game. Rodriguez is slated to face fellow heavyweight standout Victor Hugo this Friday in the main event of Who’s Number One 22.

For his part, Jimenez is perhaps the most entertaining competitor in grappling, known for his ultra-aggressive submission hunting and seemingly unstoppable back-takes. He’ll come into the match loaded with confidence after winning gold in the absolute division at the 2023 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds last December – a feat he accomplished with a 100 percent finishing rate.

Jimenez spoke to Grappling Insider about his incredible run at No-Gi Worlds.

How to watch: 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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