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Competition Between Competitions: ADCC vs CJI

One of the World’s Fastest Growing Sports

Over the last ten years, BJJ has exploded in popularity. The sport has steadily grown since it flew over from Brazil and started asserting dominance in the martial arts world. I’ve written at length about the history of the first UFC event and its purpose in establishing Gracie Jiu Jitsu as the most innovative and effective fighting style. Since then, the originators switched “Gracie” to “Brazilian,” and gyms started popping up around the world. Far from becoming watered down McDojos (a fate of many a taekwondo and karate gyms) BJJ has grown into an entertaining and complex sport that can afford its athletes a certain kind of fame.

                                                                                             Image – FloGrappling

The competition circuit has reflected this, having many high-profile events come and go. The first to offer a substantial cash prize was ADCC. Since its inception in 1998, many have tried to emulate but few have succeeded.

From Silver Medalist 

Craig Jones heads directly into the controversy like a cowboy fords a river. After building an audience by losing out on ADCC gold consistently for almost a decade, Jones is striking back. The Craig Jones Invitational is a grappling event scheduled for August 16th and 17th. It will be held at the Thomas and Mack Arena in Las Vegas. It will be shown free on Youtube.

ADCC will be held at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on August 17th and 18th. It will be shown exclusively on Flograppling, which charges $149.99 yearly. ADCC will pay $10,000 to win a division and $40,000 to win the absolute division. In contrast, the CJI will pay $10,001 just to show up. It will be set up in the tournament format with 16 athlete brackets for +80kg and -80kg. The prize to win a bracket will be $1,000,000.

The CJI will be ran as a non-profit. The proceeds will be going to a charity called the “fair fight foundation.” This is an organization dedicated to fairness in athletic compensation for professional grapplers. It should be noted that the  sponsors are the Craig Jones founded B-Team studios and gym. Craig has adopted this cause after publicly expressing his distaste in the business models of both FloGrappling and ADCC as a king making event.

The “Salt” Comes From A Good Place – Allegedly 

The idea of setting up a competition as a direct affront to a prestigious and established tournament is a bold and possibly invidious move, but Jones seems unperturbed. He says from a comment on Reddit, “I’m trying to leverage my position in the sport to make sure athletes get paid more. As the money becomes available to spend on production so should a token amount of that go back towards the athletes. The growth of the sports profits have 100% gone into production. I just don’t think that’s really fair. Instead of demanding more money I’m using seminars and funding to pay the athletes myself.”

From a Few Come Many

So far, several high profile Jiu Jitsu athletes have jumped shit from ADCC to the CJI. Ffion Davies, multiple time ADCC winner is signing up. The Tackett brothers, William and Andrew, have also abandoned the elder for the inaugural. With two exciting young grapplers and one highly experience star, the CJI is off to a good start in recruitment. B Team members Nicky Rod, Nicky Ryan, and Jozef Chen have also thrown their hats into the ring for the shot at a cool million. MMA legend Luke Rockhold will also be competing, (because that guy hasn’t taken a day off since retiring).

                                                                                             Image – Tapology

Of course, not everyone supports the spirit of free market competition. Tom DeBlass has criticized the Tackett brothers’s move, saying that “ADCC is our Olympics, and they won our Olympic Trials.” The entire response is heartfelt, if not myopic.

In the long run, this kind of competition among competitions can only be healthy. The monopoly of compensating athletes with “experience” as opposed to “money”  should be weeded out sooner rather than later. Any step towards that goal is a step in the right direction.

Image 2 – LowKick MMA
Image 3 – The B Team
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