Australian black belt and no-gi specialist Craig Jones is scheduled to square off with Team Atos representative Ronaldo Junior on February 26. The match will take place at a fan-free Who’s Number One (WNO) event in Austin, TX. News of the match was first announced by Flo Grappling and confirmed by Jones on his Instagram.
The match will be a 15-minute, submission-only no-gi affair contested at 195 pounds.
Jones is a feared leg locker and submission specialist. He earned his black belt under fellow Australian Lachlan Giles, but now trains with the likes of Gordon Ryan, Nicky Ryan, Garry Tonon, and team leader John Danaher in their newly-adopted home of Puerto Rico. One of the more active elite no-gi competitors in the world, Jones owns a 2019 ADCC silver medal. He spent most of 2020 competing under the Submission Underground banner, defeating Vinny Magalhaes, Vagner Rocha, and Satoshi Ishii, among others. Jones also competed in the last WNO event, securing a heel hook finish of Roberto Jimenez.
Junior is among the crop of highly-talented, young grapplers at Andre Galvao‘s Team Atos. Unlike Jones, Junior is an aggressive guard passer and has competed extensively in the gi lately. As a black belt, he is an IBJJF Pans gi and no-gi champion and found ample success in IBJJF gi and no-gi competition in the colored belts.
To be sure, Jones is the favorite in this match-up. He is the much more experienced grappler under this ruleset, and has proven himself capable of submitting the absolute best in the world. Nonetheless, Junior is young, athletic, and will be coming into the match with nothing to lose. Junior’s relentless guard passing could leave openings for Jones to snatch up a leg or take Junior’s back, but it also might exhaust Jones and force him into a bad position.