Where In The World Is DJ Jackson?

Published on by Erin Herle

Edwin Najmi

DJ Jackson spent the last year in search of opportunity and adventure. Opportunity in terms of pursuing BJJ as a career with a solid income, and adventure by traveling to nearly 10 different countries. The Lloyd Irvin black belt has spent most of his adult life on the mats, competing, teaching, and training. And only recently did he make a big change to his goals.

DJ Jackson

As with a lot of the high level grapplers, DJ went the route of paid gigs, rather than paying to compete within organizations like IBJJF. With two black belt no-gi world titles including the world titles he earned in gi and no-gi at lower belts, there is less and less to prove. And so he entered professional MMA as well as more and more paid superfights/tournaments. He’s chasing the checks while living the dream.

In September 2015 he went pro in the cage and now holds a 4-0 record. He intends to be signed by the UFC and continue on the MMA career path, but his last two opponents pulled out and he’s waiting on another fight within the Cage Fury Fight Championships. The time away from the cage has been anything but wasted, though.

“With Jiu-Jitsu I can compete more without taking time off for a fight camp, so the goal is still UFC but right now I’m enjoying competing BJJ more, traveling and teaching,” DJ explains.

His agenda was busy. In the last quarter of 2016 he won his first match within the Fight to Win Promotion and has since remained undefeated in four matches. He currently holds the middleweight black belt no-gi belt, having defended it twice already. Surprisingly, these events pay off more than a world title. According to DJ, “I got significantly more money from being a Fight 2 Win champion than being a no-gi world champion.”

DJ also became the star of two other organizations: Grappling Pro and Copa Podio. In 2016 he earned $10k at the first Grappling Pro and later defended his title in June 2017 in a superfight against Vagner Rocha. Two months later he went to Manaus to become the first American to win the Copa Podio.

"...Jiu jitsu gave me a way to see the world and share my knowledge as I was doing it.”

Prizes are posted when it comes to tournaments and some events, but many times there are undisclosed amounts between the organizers and the athletes. For example, Copa Podio doesn’t post their prize money as they deal with individual contracts.

But an organization like the UAEJJF hosts various tournaments around the world, advertising their prize money to entice more athletes to register. Another route to the cash is by gaining ranking points that will later determine who, within their respective regions, will earn the tickets to Abu Dhabi World Pro.

DJ managed to get to the top 4 and will compete in London to seek out more points, and the cash prize of $2,500 for first place. He’s aiming to be in the top two of Americans so he can receive a fully paid ticket to Abu Dhabi World Pro where can earn up to $10k for his division.

DJ Jackson

In September he competed in the most prestigious invitational, ADCC, in Helsinki, Finland. Despite losing his first match via penalty, DJ was undeterred and jumped into the the Spyder Invitational in South Korea less than a month later October where he conquered another superfight victory.

From November and into January 2018 he set out for a European excursion, competing in National Pro tournaments and teaching seminars in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Italy and Spain. DJ experienced one of the most worthwhile advantages of the jiu jitsu lifestyle: “I always wanted to travel to Europe but it was never really an option growing up. Jiu jitsu gave me a way to see the world and share my knowledge as I was doing it.”