Craig Jones took some time during a recent episode of El Segundo podcast to break down what he sees as difficult situation that FloGrappling now find themselves in. Jones has spoken about FloGrappling’s business practices before but this time he’s actually assessed several things that are public knowledge rather than sharing any unique insight. Just like he’s become known for on his podcast, he was actually insightful in between the flow of jokes and he makes some good points about the state of the professional grappling world.
While FloGrappling may very well have more than one problem facing them in the future, Craig Jones pointed out one very obvious one on the horizon:
“They basically can not make profit off a professional grappling event unless Gordon Ryan’s involved. Without him, there’s no profitable event. Obviously we got women in the sport calling for equal pay, like there’s no money to be made for the organizations. Love him or hate, if Gordon’s on a show they can turn a profit, if Gordon’s not on a show they’re losing money.”
While that does require a little insider-knowledge into the state of the sport, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Gordon Ryan is the most popular active BJJ competitor on the planet. According to Jones, FloGrappling already noticed this too:
“So they recognize this very early on. Instead of saying ‘hey let’s build an organization where one guy’s not the star. Let’s try to leverage him to build other stars so that if we lose him we can still turn a profit’. They go ‘you know what? F*ck this. F*ck that, all we care about is the profits of the next show so we’re gonna give this c*nt whatever he wants, whatever demands he wants. We’re gonna give him a massive contract.”
The contract that he’s referring to is the seven-figure contract that Ryan signed with FloGrappling, which is the biggest in the sport’s history. This made him the highest-paid BJJ competitor by quite a wide margin, and the fact that he’s only kept winning since then means that he has a huge amount of negotiating power in the future. Jones explains that the time for renegotiation is fast approaching and FloGrappling haven’t done anything to mitigate the amount of power Ryan has:
“I believe he either has 2 or 1 matches left on that contract and then he’s open again. The best part is, some of the other big names in the sport, I would say like myself, they’ve completely alienated. So they’re all in on this guy. Like other big names: Mikey (Musumeci) is in ONE (Championship), he can’t compete for Flo (Grappling), Ruotolos… ONE, can’t compete for Flo. So they’re backed into a corner. This is their business model right? Gordon (Ryan) holds all the chips in renegotiation after he finishes his contract with Flo and you have to imagine UFC are going to offer him something great, because they want him.”
While the lack of other stars in the sport is obviously a problem for FloGrappling, Craig Jones is right that the fact they now have a major competitor in UFC Fight Pass only magnifies the issue. Not only do they own the streaming rights to major grappling promotions like Polaris and EBI, but they have started producing their own events with UFC Fight Pass Invitational as well. Ryan has already been competing for them and has been attending several major UFC events as well, so it seems like his relationship with the organization has been growing.
As Craig Jones points out, this could be what pushes FloGrappling to breaking point:
“I would imagine things aren’t gonna be good for FloGrappling if they can’t get him under contract again. Because if he goes to UFC, who else is there? Because they’re gonna say ‘Craig, we’re gonna offer you a lot of money to come back to FloGrappling.’ and I’m gonna be like ‘$1,000,000 for emotional damage.'”
While his proposed salary is a clear joke, there’s an element of truth behind it as well. If FloGrappling find themselves without their biggest star then they’re obviously going to be scrambling for other talent, and those other competitors will be in a fantastic position to push for bigger salaries than ever before. Jones even shared a little background behind the current pay that athletes get, and it’s clear that there’s room for improvement:
“If some of these other guys that are actually pretty accomplished, pretty popular, knew how much money he was getting paid than them, they would lose their minds. They would throw a f*cking tantrum. Off the top of my head, without naming figures, Gordon would get paid 10 times more than some of the guys in the co-main event. 10 times more.”
The full episode of El Segundo podcast where Craig Jones gives his thoughts on the state of FloGrappling without Gordon Ryan was uploaded to the official YouTube channel of B-Team Jiu-Jitsu: