Craig Jones is one of the most popular figures in the BJJ world and his rise to the top began against Leandro Lo in the opening round of the 88kg division back at ADCC 2017. Jones won ADCC Trials for the first time several years before this, earning his place at ADCC 2015 where he would make his promotional debut. He was dominated by Romulo Barral in the opening round and returned to Australia, getting promoted to black belt by Lachlan Giles the following year. He earned the right to return at ADCC 2017 but nobody could have expected what was going to happen once he stepped on the mats.
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Craig Jones vs Leandro Lo – ADCC 2017
Leandro Lo was the top seed in the 88kg division at ADCC 2017 and many at the time viewed Craig Jones as simply the first stepping stone on Lo’s path to glory. After all, Lo was a five-time IBJJF World Championship winner across multiple weight classes and Jones had fallen short at EBI 11 earlier that year. The two men had enjoyed significantly different levels of success up until this point and understandably, most fans in attendance would have completely overlooked the threat that Jones posed to Lo.
Breaking Down The Match
Craig Jones sat to guard almost immediately after touching hands with Leandro Lo at ADCC 2017, and Lo obliged him by immediately pressuring forward to pass. Jones threatened Lo’s legs and caused him to disengage for a moment, before securing a deep de la riva when he stepped back in. Jones sat him down and tried to use a straight ankle-lock grip at first, but Lo escaped and took up position in top half-guard. Jones used Z-guard to break Lo’s balance and tried to come up on top, pummeling into X-guard when Lo denied the sweep. Jones elevated him and got sight of his back, but Lo was able to free his leg and he disengaged once again to recover.
Jones stayed seated and Lo stepped in to pass again, being met with an underhook in de la riva this time around. Leandro Lo lost his balance for a second and Craig Jones capitalized by entering the saddle, locking up a heel hook and cranking on it hard. Lo ate some of the torque and rolled to free his knee-line, while Jones countered by entering Single-leg X on the other leg. Lo cleared the grips and dropped low to pass, getting stuck in Z-guard for a little while before the pair went out of bounds in a scramble. They were reset in the center and Lo tried to pass quickly, but Jones threatened him with a choi bar that forced him to disengage to escape.
Lo got back to passing and started to break down Jones’ guard, but Jones was able to keep using the de la riva guard to prevent him from passing. Craig Jones threatened Leandro Lo with a Caio Terra footlock at one point, but Lo was able to escape. Jones attempted a saddle entry shortly after, but Lo read it early this time and escaped again. Lo started passing more cautiously this time but Jones sat him down with a sweep from de la riva, although Lo stood back up quickly to maintain top position. After another short stint of time spent in Z-guard, Lo backed up to standing and tried to explode forward into a knee-slice pass.
Craig Jones shut down the pass and hit another saddle entry, coming up on top to sweep Leandro Lo when he started to defend it. Lo turned to turtle to deny Jones from scoring points but Jones rolled through to take his back, immediately sinking in the rear-naked choke. Lo tried to defend for a few seconds but Jones locked up a body-triangle and the choke was far too deep already. Lo couldn’t survive for long as Jones squeezed the choke and forced him to tap, taking him out of ADCC 2017 in the very first round.
Craig Jones had caused the biggest upset of ADCC 2017 by submitting Leandro Lo in the opening round of the 88kg division. Jones then submitted Murilo Santana with a flying triangle choke in the second round, booking his place in the second day of the tournament. Although he lost on points to Keenan Cornelius and Xande Ribeiro on day 2, he had already made a huge impact on the world of professional grappling. It was this epic performance that earned him an invite back to ADCC 2019, where he won a silver medal at 88kg for the very first time. Jones has since won another silver medal in the 99kg division at ADCC 2022, and established himself as one of the best competitors of his generation.
Leandro Lo crashed out of ADCC 2017 when he was submitted by Craig Jones, and he actually never returned to the ADCC mats. He didn’t compete at the event in 2019 and sadly never got the chance to compete at ADCC 2022 as he was tragically murdered just a little over a month before it took place. There was a huge outpouring of grief from the Jiu-Jitsu community all around the world, as Lo was one of the most popular figures in the sport and his death came as a huge shock to everyone.
The full match between Craig Jones and Leandro Lo from ADCC 2017 was uploaded to the official YouTube channel of FloGrappling: