Danaher Death Squad Split Truth: Craig Jones, Danaher Speak

Last updated on 18.10.2022 by

Just a few days ago, John Danaher was a guest on the Lex Friedman Podcast and revealed inside information about the Danaher Death Squad split that let the grappling world speculate. Just as people were processing his side of the story, Craig Jones came out with his version of events on the TFD Performance Podcast, prompting even more speculation and questions. 

Why the Danaher Death Squad Split: John Danaher’s Perspective

Danaher Death Squad Split Truth

The Jiu Jitsu community follows podcasts with Danaher almost religiously, as they are somewhat scarce, and people did get a real treat in this last one, which lasted more than four and a half hours. 

The show started with a bang, with the always highly-inquisitive Lex not just asking about the Danaher Death Squad split, but also pushing John to give specific answers. 

The Danaher Death Squad moved to Puerto Rico at the peak of Covid, attempting to circumvent training restrictions in New York City.  

The Danaher Death Squad at the time consisted of all the biggest stars in grappling: Gordon and Nicky Ryan, Craig Jones, Nick Rodriguez, Oliver Taza, etc. 

In Puerto Rico, they all trained in a gym set up by MO Jassim, ADCC head organizer, but also had to live together, which meant spending every waking moment with each other. Danaher said on the podcast that these are highly competitive athletes who already “compete” with one another on the mats and need time to cool off from any tensions in training.

Since everyone lived in the same house, there was no escaping one another, which led to tensions transferring from the mats into the members’ lives. In particular, Danaher singled out Gordon and Nicky Ryan, and their family tension is the main reason for the Danaher Death Squad split.  

“Not only was it a team breakup, but it was a family breakup, which is much more serious. I do believe that in time even the most intense family breakups can be reconciled, and I also believe that once dialogue begins people will remember just how easy it is for us to get along and how tight we were for so many years. It’s so easy to let a minute of anger destroy 10 years of friendship.”

said Danaher. 

Despite the attempts of Danaher to convince the athletes to stay together until after the ADCC, the majority decision went the other way, and the Danaher Death Squad split up. 

A curious comment Danaher made was that after the split and the athletes deciding to move to Austin, Texas, it was John, Gordon, and a few junior members that were supposed to train at the gym where the B-team is training now.

B-team is the team built by three-quarters of the Danaher Death Squad members that decided to leave Danaher after the split.  

A John stated they were left “homeless” upon moving to Austin due to the B-team “poaching “their agreed-upon training space. 

Danaher’s team, under the name New Wave Jiu-Jitsu has since rebuilt, adding valuable athletes like Luke Griffith, Nicholas Meregali, and Giancarlo Bodoni. 

Craig Jones’ Side of the Story

Danaher Death Squad Split Truth

Craig Jones went on the TFD Performance Podcast just days after Jonh’s Danaher Deat Squad split story went viral in the BJJ community. 

To be honest, Craig did not disclose much, although he took himself out of the equation in terms of saying that it was not some big falling out between him and Danaher that prompted the breakup but that other things piled up, leading to the split. 

This, in essence, seems to confirm John Danaher’s story about the family tension between the Ryan brothers being the boiling point that led to the Danaher Death Squad split.

According to Craig:

“There’s a lot of personal problems through the split that not necessarily directly involved me… In terms of me having serious personal problems with anyone, I’m not really that type of person…”

Craig says that the members of both teams run into each other all the time, and “I say hello to John, obviously when I see him…”

Jones says that the B-team and New Wave Jiu Jitsu team have a completely different vibe, clearly showing why there are two teams today instead of one.

Craig stated that “Neither side talks about it,” and they keep it private, as it is not their intention to draw attention to themselves by exploiting the reasons behind the split. 

However, there are some indications that there was not only tension between the Ryan brothers. Craig mentioned on the podcast that

“ There was an incident previously, where Nicky Rod said some things that could’ve been perceived… I mean, he said some negative things about maybe John, and Gordon, and that really fired up the split a bit at that time…” 

Jones also said that “It’s probably not my story to tell. It doesn’t directly involve me as much as others.” reiterating the fact that it wasn’t “bad blood” between him and Danaher that ended splitting up the best grappling team in history. 

What We Think

We’ve seen what happens when you put together highly competitive, professional combat sports athletes together for a prolonged period of time. Watch the “Ultimate Fighter” any season, and you’ll see tension running high for many legitimate or dumb reasons. 

The result of the Danaher Death Squad split is not necessarily negative. Now we can see the best athletes in grappling take on one another, divided into two teams with very different training approaches. 

While curiosity drives us to discover what truly happened to split the team, we are quite content with the present situation.