In the eyes of many BJJ practitioners, Gi jiu-jitsu is drifting away from Nogi. With the popularization of MMA, we’re seeing a lot of UFC stars get promoted rather fast, and some even skip certain belt levels.
This was previously criticized by Khamzat Chimaev and Islam Makhachev who each pointed to the discrepancies in promotion criteria and how easy some of their opponents are to submit.
Promotion criteria discrepancies are especially obvious in MMA
Chimaev had only gotten his purple belt after the 5 rounder against Gilbert Burns. He’s submitted Kevin Holland (BJJ black belt) among others. Chimaev stated during an interview that he doesn’t think Alex Pereira deserves a brown belt after just a few years of training, and that he himself has submitted many BJJ black belts.
Makhachev previously questioned the ease with which people are promoted to black belt. Volkanovski’s BJJ coach (ADCC silver medalist Craig Jones) agreed with Makhachev, stating that traditional BJJ practitioners lack the ability to hold someone down and that many black belts don’t deserve their rank.
What about Jon Jones?
But one man that’s certainly deserving of his purple belt is UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Jones is in consideration for one of the greatest competitors of all time in the UFC. He reclaimed the number 1 spot on the UFC pound for pound rankings this week. This followed submission win over Cyril Gane at UFC 285.
Jones trains under Roberto Tussa Alencar who recently shed some light on why he hasn’t promoted Jon Jones to brown belt just yet. Alencar told interviewer:
“I believe that our way of promoting our students here in Gracie Barra is based on the federation, on the CBJJ.”
“I was raised by this, my Jiu Jitsu was made in Gracie Barra. So we always followed the rules of the federation. And the federation graduation framework, which recommends that you train twice a week, at least in a kimono, so you can progress in the ranks. Something that MMA pros don’t do, there’s no time for them to do it..”
“So there is a certain modification in this graduation. A certain consideration since they don’t have the time. They don’t have a certain interest in working so much in a Gi, but I need them to have a knowledge of modern Jiu Jitsu which is coming.”
“Lapel sweeps, using lapels, using the Gi itself, where to make the grips, the language of Jiu Jitsu, the philosophy of Jiu Jitsu itself.”
Jones might not be pushing for that promotion. Alencar later added:
“I think he trusts my work and the questions I bring to him, which is the understanding of Jiu Jitsu itself. In a philosophical way. Let’s say, using the lessons of Jiu Jitsu in life, not only MMA, but in his personal life as well.”
“And I believe that Jiu Jitsu has been influencing him. In the humility that Jiu Jitsu makes him humble daily.”
Jon Jones said he hopes to get a black belt in jiu-jitsu back in 2015. Presumably, that’s when he started training BJJ in the gi. He was promoted to BJJ purple belt in December of 2019.
He has previously competed in grappling at Chael Sonnen’s Submission Underground. It’s unclear how much time Jones spent ousted from the GB team when Greg Jackson severed their longtime relationship. The two have since rekindled their working relationship.