Top 10 BBJ Competitors with the Most Pedigree in MMA
In the past few years of MMA, we have all seen the prominence, skill, and effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. MMA contains a well-balanced mix of fighting styles, but one that we’ve all seen flourish and become a trait of some of the best fighters in the world is BJJ.
BJJ is a martial art that uses grappling and ground fighting techniques to subdue opponents and defend itself. Therefore, the fighters who train at BBJ have the ability to finish fights in different ways. You will find that most fighters competing at the top level these days will practice BJJ because of the quality it can bring to your fighting style.
With the UFC growing bigger and bigger, let’s take a look at the top 10 most skilled BJJ fighters competing in MMA today.
No. 10: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Along with his brother Antonio 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 a complete fighter.
Little Nog has a 19-5 professional record in MMA and has recorded losses over top 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 certainly a testament to his skill as a fighter, especially in BJJ.
No. 9: Lyoto Machida
Lyoto Machida was undefeated in his MMA career for a long time and was the UFC light heavyweight champion until his knockout loss to Shogun Rua at UFC 104, as well as losing his next fight to Rampage Jackson. Like Nogueira, he has an extremely diverse style in his fight. He is a BJJ black belt and also has a Shotokan karate black belt.
Machida is a diverse fighter who can win fights by decision or knockout. He has won by submission twice in his professional career.
After using his versatile skills and techniques to knock out Randy Couture at UFC 129, it looked like he was on his way to reestablishing himself as an elite MMA fighter, only to have a setback in his most recent fight against reigning champion Jon Jones. Let’s put this aside, Machida is still recognized as one of the leading BJJ fighters on the MMA circuit.
No. 8: Renato Sobral
Veteran Renato “Babalu” Sobral has been around for a while since he appeared on the scene in 1997. He has fought in the UFC and Strikeforce and is one of the best BJJ practitioners in MMA. He owns a 36-9 record, and half of these wins have been by submission.
Sobral has always been recognized as a plague to all of his opponents, as he has skill both on the ground and on his feet. These acquired attributes led him to become the Strikeforce light heavyweight champion for a short time.
He was defeated by Dan Henderson in his most recent fight and was knocked out in the first round. However, Sobral has the head of a winner and will undoubtedly bounce back. Whoever your next opponent is, you will use your invaluable BJJ skills to work for you and help regain your first place among one of the best BBJ fighters in MMA.
No. 7: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is 20-6 in his career, some of which will come down to his black belt at BBJ. He is recognized as one of the most dangerous fighters in MMA. He was the one who was crowned light heavyweight champion after removing the belt from then-undefeated Lyoto Machida. His leg kicks are considered by many to be the deadliest in the MMA world.
Even though Shogun has a black belt in BJJ, he does not use this as his No. 1 fighting technique. 16 of his 19 winning fights have been knockouts, however his running game has not gone totally unnoticed as he was able to carry his first match with Machida to the judges’ scorecards.
After a long time out due to injury, Shogun returned with a title defense against the talented young Jon Jones. He did not maintain his usual standards in this fight and his injury and timeout may have played a part in this. He has since bounced back by getting his long-awaited revenge against Forrest Griffin after his loss to him at UFC 76, but then backtracked in his most recent fight where he lost to Dan Henderson. He is still looking to make a champion statement and hopes to do so in his next fight against Thiago Silva at UFC 149.
No. 6: Jose Aldo
At age 25, José Aldo is seen as a BJJ fighter in MMA. He has a 21-1 professional record and was one of the best fighters in the WEC before it merged with the UFC. Aldo is a good fighter in general, with a standing game and a ground game, he has 2 appearances to his name and four wins by decision.
Although he may seem like a bit of a fighter, don’t let his knockouts fool you. He made his UFC debut at UFC 129, where he defended his featherweight championship belt by winning against Mark Hominick by unanimous decision. Since then, he has racked up victories against Kenny Florian and Chad Mendes.
Number 5: Demian Maia
We are now getting to the cream of the crop in terms of a 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 by knockout and his second to Anderson Silva, this was seen by many as a somewhat unfair loss as Silva didn’t really put up much of a fight and a decision was made.
Maia is undoubtedly one of the great BJJ practitioners, with a total of eight submission wins. He is an incredible fighter and ground fighter. His submission victims include top fighters like Chael Sonnen and Nate Quarry. He is certainly a fighter to watch out for with his exceptional BBJ technique and I’m sure he will show his true quality once again at UFC 148 fighting Dong Hyun Kim.
No. 4: BJ Penn
Known to many as “The Prodigy,” BJ Penn is notably one of the best BJJ practitioners in MMA. He attacks well, is 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, and has since moved up to welterweight again.
Like many of the others here, Penn is a good all-around fighter who is dangerous as he has the ability to win fights in a number of ways. With his commitment to MMA and his dubious BJJ skills, he’s a future Hall of Famer infallible.
No. 3: Georges St. Pierre
Georges St. Pierre is currently viewed 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 as a UFC Welterweight Champion.
With his fighting style and technique in mind, GSP is simply a chameleon. Of his 22 victories, 8 have been by knockout, 9 by decision and 5 5 by submission. Love him or hate him, he is without a doubt one of the best fighters in MMA history.
For his opponents, training for a fight with him to counter his style can be dismissed as useless. It seems common for GSP to mirror the style of its competitors, wait and feed on 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 is undoubtedly on this list as one of the best BJJ fighters today.
No. 2: Anderson Silva
For many, he is one of the most controversial fighters in MMA and also one of the best fighters in BJJ. He trained with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira with whom he won his black belt, and he has never been defeated in the UFC, which makes him the best current MMA fighter. This is backed up by the fact that he has won 15 fights in a row and has a 31-4 career record.
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 other hand he has also won 7 by decision and 6 by submission, which makes him quite a versatile fighter. One of his most notable appearances occurred against fighter Chael Sonnen at UFC 117, whom he is now scheduled to fight again at UFC 148, and it has been one of the most publicized fights in recent years with Sonnen speaking up and vowing revenge.
Silva took a heavy beating for nearly 5 rounds, but still Silva managed to block a choke / triangle arm on Sonnen near the end, forcing him to tap at 3:10 in the fifth and final round. Rumors have constantly surfaced about Silva fighting Georges St. Pierre. For that to happen, the weight classes would have to be changed. This showdown, with both champions in their own weight classes, is seen by many as the ultimate fight to determine the true current MMA champion. Besides being a great match, it would also be a BJJ display.
No. 1: Royce Gracie
Royce Gracie hasn’t actually fought in MMA since 2007. He’s also the only fighter here who doesn’t have a black belt in BJJ. Instead, he has a seventh grade red and black belt. This is one of the highest levels you can achieve in BJJ.
There is no question why Royce Gracie is recognized as one of the best 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’s no wonder Royce Gracie is number one on this list.
He may not be competing in MMA at the moment, but his return to the UFC has been speculated on. If he were to go back, anyone who fights him will have a tough BJJ lesson. He is simply a natural, and possesses the relevant skills to take down absolutely anyone and once they are taken down, he is the master of submission.