In past years of MMA we have all seen the prominence, skill and effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. MMA contains a nicely balanced mix of fighting styles, but one we have all seen flourish and become a trait of some of the world’s top fighters is BJJ.
BJJ is a martial art that uses grappling techniques and ground fighting in order to submit opponents as well as defend yourself. Fighters who therefore train in BBJ have the ability to finish fights in a number of different ways. You will find that most fighters competing on the top level these days will practice BJJ because of the quality it can bring to your fighting style.
With UFC growing more and more, let’s have a look at the top 10 most skilled BJJ fighters competing in MMA today.
No. 10: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Along with brotherAntonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Big Nog), Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (Little Nog) is one of the leading BJJ fighters in MMA, having earned his black belt. Along with his skills in this area and other martial arts, Nogueira is also a skilled boxer. Making him an all well rounded fighter.
Little Nog has a 19-5 professional record in MMA and has recorded defeats over top ranked fighters including Dan Henderson and Vladimir Matyushenko. Unfortunately he has lost his last two fights to Ryan Bader and Phil Davis.
Although he has lost his 2 most recent bouts, his ability to win fights is undoubtedly a testament to his skill as a fighter, especially in BJJ.
No. 9: Lyoto Machida
Lyoto Machida went undefeated in his MMA career for a long time and was the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion until his knock out loss to Shogun Rua at UFC 104 as well as losing his next bout to Rampage Jackson. Like Nogueira, he has an extremely diverse style to his fighting. He is a black belt BJJ and also has a Shotokan karate black belt.
Machida is a diverse fighter who can win fights either by decision or knockout. He has won by submission twice in his professional career.
After using his versatile skills and techniques to knockout Randy Couture at UFC 129, it looked like he was on his way to re-establishing himself as an elite MMA fighter, only to have a setback in his most recent fight against current champion Jon Jones. Set this aside Machida is still recognised as one of the leading BJJ fighters in the MMA circuit.
No. 8: Renato Sobral
Veteran Renato “Babalu” Sobral has been around for a while since he came onto the scene in 1997. He has fought in the UFC and Strikeforce and is one of the top BJJ practitioners in MMA. He possesses a 36-9 record, and half of these wins have been by submission.
Sobral has always been recognised as a pest for all of his opponents as he has skill both on the ground as well as standing. These acquired attributes led him to become the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion for a short time.
He was beat by Dan Henderson in his most recent fight being knocked out in the first round. Sobral has the head of a winner though and will undoubtedly bounce back. Whoever his next opponent is he will use his invaluable BJJ skills to work to his advantage and help regain his top spot of one of the best BBJ fighters in MMA.
No. 7: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua hold a 20-6 career record some of what will be down to his black belt in BBJ. He is recognised as one of the most dangerous brawling fighters in MMA. He was the one to be crowned the Light Heavyweight Champion after taking the belt from the then undefeated Lyoto Machida. His leg kicks are seen by many to be the most deadly in the MMA world.
Even though Shogun has a black belt in BJJ, he doesn’t use this as his number 1 fighting technique. 16 of his 19 winning fights have been knockouts, however his ground game hasn’t gone totally unnoticed as he was able to take his first match up with Machida to the judges’ scorecards.
After a lengthy time out due to injury Shogun came back with a title defence against talented youngster Jon Jones. He didn’t uphold his usual standards in this bout and his injury and time out may have played a big part in this. Since then he bounced back getting his long awaited revenge on Forrest Griffin after his loss to him at UFC 76, but then fell back in his most recent fight were he lost to Dan Henderson. He still looks to make a champion statement and is hoping to do so in his next fight to Thiago Silva at UFC 149.
No. 6: Jose Aldo
At age 25, Jose Aldo is seen as a one to watch BJJ fighter in MMA. He holds a professional record of 21-1 and was one of the top fighters in WEC before it was merged with UFC. Aldo is a good all round fighter, with stand-up game as well as ground game, he has 2 submissions to his name as well as four decision wins.
Although he may seem like a bit of a brawler, don’t let his knockouts fool you. He made his UFC debut at UFC 129, where he defended his Featherweight Championship belt winning against Mark Hominick by unanimous decision. He has since added wins against Kenny Florian and Chad Mendes.
No. 5: Demian Maia
We are now getting to the cream of the crop in terms of BJJ fighter. Demian Maia is a fourth-degree black belt in BJJ with a 15-4 record in MMA. His first loss was to Nate Marquardt via knockout and his second to Anderson Silva, this by many was seen as a loss that was a little unfair as Silva didn’t really put up much of a fight and it went to decision.
Maia is undoubtedly one of the great practitioners of BJJ, with a total of eight wins coming via submission. He is an amazing grappler and ground fighter. His submission victims include top fighters, such as Chael Sonnen and Nate Quarry. He is certainly a fighter to be wary of with his exceptional BBJ technique and I am sure he will show his true quality once again at UFC 148 fighting Dong Hyun Kim.
No. 4: B.J. Penn
known to many as “The Prodigy,” B.J. Penn is notably one of the best BJJ practitioners in MMA. He strikes well, has a record of 16-8-2 (draws), winning six of his fights by submission.
Penn held the UFC Lightweight Championship for nearly two years before losing it to Frankie Edgar, he has since moved back up to welterweight.
Like many of the others here, Penn is a good all round fighter who is dangerous as he has the ability to win fights in a number of ways. With his commitment to MMA and his un doubtable BJJ skills he is a surefire future Hall of Famer.
No. 3: Georges St. Pierre
Georges St. Pierre is currently seen as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in MMA. He has a black belt in BJJ with a 22-2 record, winning a total of eight fights in a row whilst being UFC Welterweight Champion.
With his fighting style and technique in mind, GSP is can simply be seen as a chameleon. Of his 22 victories, 8 have been by knockout,9 by decision, and 5 5 by submission. Love or hate him, he is certainly one of the greatest fighters in MMA history.
For his opponents, training for a fight with him to counter his style can be branded useless. It seems common that GSP mirrors his competitors style, waits and feeds off of their mistakes. He recently defended his belt against fellow BJJ practitioner and submission specialist Jake Shields at UFC 129, winning by unanimous decision.
Georges St. Pierre without doubt makes this list as one of the best BJJ fighters currently out there.
No. 2: Anderson Silva
To many he is one of the most controversial fighters in MMA and also one of the best BJJ fighters. He trained under Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira with whom he gained his black belt, he has also never been beaten in the UFC, making him commendably the greatest current MMA fighter. This is backed up by the fact that he has won 15 fights in a row and has a career record of 31-4.
Silva’s fights, his unique style and technique are a testament to his BJJ skill. 18 of his victories have been by knockout, but on the flip side he has also won 7 by decision and 6 by submission making him quite a versatile fighter. One of his most notable submissions happened against wrestler Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 who he his now scheduled to fight again at UFC 148, and has been one of the most publicised fight in recent years with Sonnen big mouthing and vowing to have his revenge.
Silva took much of a beating for nearly 5 rounds, but even so Silva managed to lock in a triangle choke/armbar on Sonnen close to the end, forcing him to tap out at 3:10 in the fifth and final round. Rumours have been brought up constantly about Silva fighting Georges St. Pierre. For that to happen one would have to change weight classes. This match up, with both being champions in their own weight classes is seen by many as the ultimate fight to determine the true current MMA champion. As well as being a great match up, it would also be an exhibition of breathe taking BJJ.
No. 1: Royce Gracie
Royce Gracie actually hasn’t fought in MMA since 2007. He is also the only fighter here who does not have a black belt in BJJ. Instead, he holds a 7th degree red and black belt. This being one of the highest levels that you can achieve in BJJ.
No question to why Royce Gracie is recognised as one of the greatest BJJ practitioners on the planet as his father Helio and his uncle Carlos originated the martial art itself. As a result he practically grew up surrounded by the sport, it is not a surprise that Royce Gracie be No. 1 on this list.
He may not be competing in MMA at the moment, but there has been speculation of him returning to the UFC. If he was to make a return, anyone who fights him will be in for a tough lesson in BJJ. He is simply a natural, and possess the relevant skills to take absolutely any one down and once they are down he is the master of submission.