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Craig Jones Invitational Sparks Revolution in BJJ Compensation

The grappling world is buzzing with excitement and controversy surrounding the Craig Jones Invitational (CJI), also known as BDCC. Organized by Craig Jones, this event aims to challenge the status quo of competitor compensation in the sport, offering an unprecedented $3 million in total prize money and introducing an innovative competition format.

Craig Jones’s Crusade for Better Athlete Pay

Jones has long been a vocal critic of the low prize money offered by major BJJ competitions, specifically targeting organizations like ADCC for their stagnant payouts. He believes the growth of the sport warrants better compensation to ensure athletes can make a living from their craft.

In his own words, Jones emphasized the need for change:

“We’ll probably do 10K to show just because I personally think that is hilarious. 10K is not a lot of money but it’s what you deserve.”

“If you were doing an event soon and they threw a contract at you, maybe reconsider because you might just miss out on one million dollars, and as a grappler you’re never gonna see a million dollars…”

Craig Jones

Jones has organized a seminar to benefit unpaid competitors and spoken out against business practices he deems unfair to athletes.

A Revolutionary Prize Pool

The CJI/BDCC sets a new benchmark by offering a staggering $3 million in total prize money, with $1 million going to each division champion. In contrast, ADCC, one of the most prestigious tournaments, offers $10,000 for men’s division winners and $6,000 for women’s division winners. Additionally, Jones announced that participants would receive $10,001 just for showing up—$1 more than ADCC’s first-place prize.

Karate Combat-Inspired Combat Area

The CJI/BDCC will feature a unique pit-style combat area with elevated walls, inspired by Karate Combat. This setup introduces a strategic element to the matches, allowing competitors to use the walls to their advantage for maneuvers and positional control, adding a new tactical layer to the competition.

Accessibility and Engagement

One of the standout features of the CJI/BDCC is its accessibility. Matches will be streamed live on YouTube for free, ensuring that fans worldwide can watch the event without any financial barriers. This decision is expected to boost viewership and engagement significantly, making the event one of the most anticipated of the year.

The Rivalry with ADCC

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The scheduling of the CJI/BDCC to coincide with ADCC dates in September 2024 has sparked a significant rivalry. This overlap forces athletes to choose between competing in the traditional ADCC and the financially lucrative CJI/BDCC.

Nicky Ryan, a top competitor, confirmed the legitimacy of BDCC and highlighted the substantial prize pool, noting the scheduling conflict with ADCC and expressing his dilemma about choosing between the two events.

William Tackett, another notable grappler, opted to participate in CJI/BDCC instead of ADCC, citing better financial rewards as a major factor. He emphasized the financial strain on athletes and praised Jones’ initiative for offering significant payouts.

ADCC promoter Mo Jassim addressed the competition professionally, acknowledging Jones’ efforts but criticizing the counterprogramming as potentially spiteful. Jassim emphasized his commitment to athlete care and quality events regardless of the rivalry.

Athletes Signed Up for CJI

As of the latest announcements, CJI boasts an impressive lineup of elite grapplers. These competitors include Roberto Jimenez, Mason Fowler, Nicky Ryan, Jozef Chen, Nicky Rodriguez, Luke Rockhold, Ffion Davies, and William Tackett. Their participation underscores the high stakes and competitive allure of the event, which promises to be a landmark in the BJJ community.

Community Reactions and Skepticism

While the announcement has generated excitement, it has also been met with skepticism. Given Craig Jones’ history of humor and exaggeration, some fans initially doubted the seriousness of the tournament. However, Jones has backed his claims with substantial evidence, including screenshots of the prize fund, which currently sits just under $3 million.

What’s Next?

The grappling world could be in for a shakeup with Craig Jones’s new tournament – the Craig Jones Invitational. Jones, one of the sport’s biggest stars, is making waves by offering an unprecedented $3 million in total prize money, far beyond what’s typical. It’s his bold attempt to pump more money into the sport for top athletes. But will his gambit actually work? Can Jones really force the established promotions to raise their prize pools? As competitors pick sides, will this lucrative new tournament spark lasting changes in how grapplers get paid? Or will the old guard promotions just weather the storm? Only time will tell how much impact, if any, Jones’s controversial project really has on the wider grappling scene.

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