Love him or hate him, UFC champ Jon Jones made waves in his highly anticipated Octagon return when he submitted Ciryl Gane to claim the heavyweight crown for the first time. It’s raised questions in some circles about why Jones, currently a purple belt under Gracie Barra coach Roberto Tussa Alencar, hasn’t yet earned his brown belt.
According to a Portuguese-language interview with Alencar, which was later translated on BJJ Doc, Gracie Barra’s federation guidelines concerning the balance between gi and no-gi jiu-jitsu might have something to do with it.
In the translated interview text, Alencar reportedly stated, “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 [by] Gracie Barra,” continued Alencar. “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.”
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article described Jon Jones as undefeated. We have removed this language to reflect a loss by disqualification to Matt Hamill on The Ultimate Fighter in 2009, as well as a no-contest ruling in Jones’ 2017 fight against Daniel Cormier.
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