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Gordon Ryan Blasts Craig Jones for Associating with Controversial Ukrainian Battalion

Gordon Ryan Blasts Craig Jones for Associating with Controversial Ukrainian Battalion

Craig Jones has shaken the Jiu-Jitsu world by announcing the Craig Jones Invitational (CJI) tournament on the same date as ADCC 2024. The tournament will offer a $2 million cash prize spread across two divisions. Athletes like Ffion Davies and the Tackett brothers have already switched from ADCC to CJI.

Questions remain about whether CJI will be a one-time event or if Jones plans to make it a regular occurrence. Confirmed participants include Nick Rodriguez, Nicky Ryan, Ffion Davies, Jozef Chen, the Tackett brothers, and Luke Rockholt, all of whom have withdrawn from ADCC. The rivalry between ADCC and CJI is heating up, with Gordon Ryan taking a strong stance against Jones.

Gordon Ryan has criticized Jones on social media, accusing him of associating with Ukrainian nationalists. Ryan’s post, featuring an image of Jones holding an Azov Battalion flag, has sparked significant debate. The Azov Battalion has been controversial due to its early and alleged ongoing ties to far-right groups and neo-Nazi ideology. It has used symbols associated with Nazism and faced early accusations of human rights violations by some of its members. Experts have criticized the regiment’s role within the broader Azov Movement, a political umbrella group of veterans and organizations linked to Azov, suggesting it might have far-right political ambitions despite claims of depoliticization. Some believe the regiment has moderated its far-right elements as it became part of the National Guard. The Azov Regiment frequently appears in Russian propaganda and has been designated a terrorist group by Russia since August 2022.

Jones had recently traveled to Kyiv to conduct a BJJ masterclass and support Ukrainians through combat sports, raising approximately $11,000 for those on the front lines.

During his visit, Jones not only held seminars but also visited the front lines in Donetsk, sharing his experiences on social media. He highlighted the resilience of the Ukrainian people and the importance of Western aid. Despite the controversy, Jones defended his actions, explaining his motivation to support Ukrainians through Jiu-Jitsu.

Jones has previously faced backlash for having Alex Jones on his podcast and for trying out Soviet-era weaponry during his trip to Ukraine. He clarified that the weapons were not U.S. military-grade and emphasized his goal of supporting Ukrainians.

Mo Jassim, the ADCC promoter, has downplayed concerns about Jones’s alleged radicalism, urging people not to accuse Jones of racism. However, the Azov Regiment, associated with far-right groups and neo-Nazi ideology, remains a controversial topic, with Russian propaganda frequently targeting the unit.

The burst of publicity surrounding Jones’s activities may benefit his efforts to promote CJI, designed to empower grapplers to seek proper compensation for competing. Despite the controversies, Jones continues to push forward with his vision for the tournament.