Did Craig Jones Lose Submission Underground Due to a Bad Call?

Fellow ADCC contenders Craig Jones and Mason Fowler faced each other for the second time at Submission Underground 16 for the open weight title. Before this match Craig Jones had won their previous encounter. Not surprisingly Jones was a 5:1 betting odds favorite heading in to their second match. Fowler had earned his way to the SUG16 Finals after submitting Warren Brooks, Kody Steele, and Roberto Jimenez at SUG15. After Fowler’s impressive win over Jimenez the anticipation for the second match-up between Jones vs Fowler was palpable. Unfortunately, it ended in controversy with many convinced the referee made a bad call.

To recap: at the end of regulation the score was tied 1-1 after Fowler managed to pass Jones’s guard and the Jones scored with a sweep. In overtime Fowler was able to take Jones’s back and secure a body triangle. To the chagrin of Team Jones the match ended controversially when the referee yelled “TAP!!!” after hearing Jones let out a grunt as Fowler was aggressively going for a rear naked choke/neck crank. Footage does not show Jones tapping and a verbal tap was not audible either. As Gordon Ryan said Jones “was just reaching for a thumb post on his elbow.”

Though the second favorite sport in the world of jiu jitsu is debating questionable referee calls no one can deny refereeing a grappling match is a fast paced affair in which split second calls can be difficult. There is no shortage of controversial decisions by referees at the highest levels. Opinions on this issue have been posted here and by Keenan Cornelius after getting disqualified in an IBJJF event. Here is how the referee responded to the Keenan squabble.

Craig Jones explains what happened in the match in this post match interview with Chael Sonnen.

Jones’s teammates, predictably, had a few things to say:


Meanwhile, Fowler, being a good sport, offered a rematch:


For his part, Jones is taking it all in stride, with his only post a timely meme with nary a caption:


In the thread, Fowler, in a display of great humor and sportsmanship, said in response, “Your [sic] a fucking legend for this. Call me August ????”

Jeff Liwag

Jeff Liwag is an educator of 20 years with specializations in Special Education and Instructional Technology. "Submission fighting" lessons in 1999 was his first exposure to grappling martial arts, eventually taking up Jiu-Jitsu classes in 2004 and 2005, only to start training regularly at Gracie Barra Texas in 2011, where he still trains to this day, earning every belt rank up to his current brown belt from Vinicius "Draculino" Magalhaes.

Jeff Liwag has 32 posts and counting. See all posts by Jeff Liwag