BJJ ace Craig Jones Defends Mark Zuckerberg’s Awkward Cornering of Volkanovski at UFC 298

Mark Zuckerberg’s attempt at a handshake with former UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski before his UFC 298 match quickly went viral. The video sparked widespread mocking and memes across social media.

Several spectators thought that Mark Zuckerberg was in a “awkward” situation before Volkanovski entered the cage. It seemed as if Zuckerberg was “awkwardly attempting a handshake” with someone, according to Twitter users.

In the video, the billionaire tried to shake hands and offer to help pass things around, but he ended up being ignored.┬áThe incident has become fodder for jokes about Zuck’s robotic nature.

Volkanovski’s grappling coach Craig Jones witnessed the interaction firsthand. He said there’s more to the story than those viral clips suggest. Despite the widespread ridicule, Jones argues that Zuckerberg doesn’t deserve so much criticism for what he calls an awkward but well-intentioned gesture.

In a YouTube video after UFC 298, Jones shared his insider perspective on Zuck’s flubbed handshake attempt.

He said: “Basically Zuckerberg’s experience in the corner was what I do every single time I’m in the corner. Except all eyes are on Zuckerberg. Man I’ve had so many messages about what Zuck’s like, all these questions what my experiences were like with with him. All I’ll say, f**king super nice guy. We shook hands four times, not one of those was a a smooth operation on either front.”

Despite the common public view of him as socially inept, Jones says that Zuckerberg actually seemed “more normal” in person during this interaction. He contends that Zuck was likely just trying to connect with Volkanovski in the moments before his big match but lacked the social awareness.

“But I’ll say that he’s probably as socially awkward as your average blue belt in a jiu jitsu gym, maybe even less so you know. Like I think people see some of the s**t that happens to him on TV and they think ‘Oh he’s going to be super awkward guy.’ But I mean if your expectations are that level of autism, when you meet him in person he’s actually he’s actually pretty f**king normal.”


Jones’ insider perspective provides an interesting counterpoint to the dominant social media narrative that painted Zuckerberg as a totally oblivious laughingstock. According to Volkanovski’s coach, Mark likely just misread the situation in his attempt to wish Volkanovski luck in his own socially awkward way.

“So I feel bad for him that he didn’t get to hold any… Like in that meme he was trying to grab, like Volks is getting undressed, he’s getting into the cage. That last thing he does before he gets in the cage is get undressed and Volks is obviously a nice guy. So like his hoodie sweaty, he’s giving up his f**king flipflops, you know. He probably thinking ‘Oh I’ll skip over Zuck, I don’t want to hand him this f**king filthy s**t. I’ll give it to my dirty cornerman instead.”

“So Zuck’s trying to be helpful in the corner and just yeah, just a funny awkward experience. But I’m happy it happened because I was in the background of that and I can take some of that fame from zuck’s awkwardness.”

While there’s no denying the handshake attempt looked uncomfortable, Jones suggests Zuckerberg’s intentions were good despite his clumsy execution. He seems to imply we should give Zuck the benefit of the doubt rather than jumping to paint him as a robotic weirdo based on one awkward moment.