You could be forgiven for assuming that Jon Jones, the Light Heavyweight UFC champion, is an advanced Brazilian Jiu-jitsu practitioner – with a belt color that reflects this. Jones has four Octagon submission wins. This includes a memorable victory over Lyoto Machida, when he applied a standing guillotine choke hold at UFC 140 in 2012.
However, although he has mastered the mechanics of Jiu-jitsu under Robert Tussa, Jon Jones is still a Jiu-jitsu white belt. Often, the successful, well known fighters – particularly longstanding champions – progress to black belt faster than a normal practitioner would. Notwithstanding, Jones is not being handed any favors in this regard, and this is not his decision.
Tussa Explains with TATAME:
“Before anything else he needs to learn the principles of jiu jitsu, understand the rules, the philosophy, he has to spend some time. I can’t just give him the belt because he’s Jon Jones. So, about that classic photo where he’s got the white-belt, I said ‘Jon, I’m going to put the white belt on you because you never trained in the gi. You’re good as hell, you caught a black-belt in a guillotine and all, but that doesn’t make you a black-belt.’ So, I want him to put in work. It’s a way of forcing him to put on the gi and take some lessons, the same way my other students do. I don’t think it’s fair to my students who work one or two years to get a blue-belt for Jon — because he’s a UFC star — to get the blue belt without knowing the philosophy, without knowing who my master is. That’s how I think and he respects that a lot.”
In a recent interview, Tussa stated that Jones will not be gifted a blue belt, purely on the strength of his celebrity and accomplishments inside the Octagon. Instead, he will need to spend more time in the dojo, if he wishes to obtain a blue belt ranking in future. Tussa explained that his other students have to train for up to two years, before receiving a blue belt. Therefore, it would be unfair for Jones to receive a blue belt, without first learning more about the philosophy and rules of Jiu-jitsu.