Ok, so a few tweaks here and there have occurred since the creation of this page and this last one is probably the biggest change of them all. In order to keep the list as unbiased as humanly possible, BJJ Heroes has built a score system, as shown on the board below. The points were awarded for medals in the black belt division of all 4 major competitions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The two main competitions (World Championship/Mundial and ADCC) were given more relevance as they are the cream of the crop of BJJ tournaments while the other two (that arguably are just as hard as the aforementioned) are seen as lower in overall significance.
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As someone mentioned in the comments section of this page (below), the article could be called something else rather then the top BJJ Fighters of all time, maybe something along the lines: “Comprehensive list of all the greatest BJJ fighters that have competed since records began” but lets face it, it is not a great title and the current one (as it stands), is as close to an unbiased truth as possible.
Greatest BJJ Competitors of All Time
1st Place – Alexandre Ribeiro (Xande): 71 Points
It may come as a surprise to a few of you out there, but Alexandre Ribeiro is by far the greatest Jiu Jitsu competitor to have entered a mat. Alexandre is known for his cerebral approach to BJJ and competition, a weapon he has used to defeat great names of the sport such as Marcelo Garcia and Roger Gracie. Xande spent a few years concentrating on MMA, a shame for Jiu Jitsu as he could have built himself an even bigger lead over the competition, still, not bad at all!
2nd Place – Saulo Ribeiro & Roger Gracie: 63 Points
Nothing more should be expected from the two of the strongest families in Jiu Jitsu, both represented on the top spots of the ranking. Saulo and Roger are undoubtedly icons of the sport, Saulo Ribeiro will always be remembered in Jiu Jitsu as a man always willing test himself, being a consistent competitor for over two decades. Roger Gracie, on the other hand, made his mark in the sport as the first man to achieve three golden medals at the open weight division, a cool blooded submission artist who became the first grappler to finish all his opponents in the ADCC tournament (weight & absolute).
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3rd Place – Marcelo Garcia: 60 Points
The Alliance prodigy was at the top of the most stacked division in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for years on end; mastering a variety of techniques (arm drags, guilhotina, north south chokes, X-Guard, etc), Marcelinho has helped shape the landscape of Jiu Jitsu both in kimono and without it (no-gi). A true living legend of the sport, he is also one of the most entertaining grapplers in the world.
4th Place –Marcio Feitosa: 54 Points
Another fierce competitor, Marcio Feitosa was one of the most famous light weights in the history of the sport, reaching sequential podium spots for 7 years in a row at the world championships. Not always the flashier competitor of the tournament, Marcio excelled at strategy and timing which worked perfectly as his record remains as the best amongst the lighter weight competitors.
5th Place – André Galvão: 52 Points
Considered a phenom since his teenage years, Andre Galvao lost a couple of years to dedicate himself to an MMA career; otherwise his score could have been higher. This Tererê black belt was always a believer in keeping a very high competitive pace, often fighting in smaller shows just to keep active for the big tournament, this hard work paid off often.
6th Place – Marcio Cruz (Pé de Pano): 49 points
One of the world’s best ever Super Heavyweights, Marcio Cruz was L’enfant terrible of Jiu Jitsu in the beginning of the XXI century. His antics against some of his rivals were sustainable on the mats where he destroyed many of his opponents making better use of his famous guard and fatal triangle choke.~
7th Place – Romulo Barral: 45 Points
One of the most accomplished spider guard players of our times, Romulo Barral has been at the top of the BJJ world ever since he reached his black belt status. A 3 time world silver medal in the open weight division, Romulo’s only big nemesis has been his team mate Roger Gracie.
8th Place – Roberto Magalhães (Roleta): 43 Points
The creator of the Inverted Guard (Tornado Guard), Roleta was one of the most exciting grapplers of his time. Through his creativeness, his heated battles (with Wallid Ismail, Saulo Ribeiro or Margarida and many others), as well as his achievements, Magalhaes became one of the stars in the golden era of Gracie Barra, and will always be associated with the Barra da Tijuca team of the 1990’s.
9th Place – Rubens Charles (Cobrinha): 42 Points
Rubens Charles Maciel was the king of the featherweights for 4 years, winning against everyone in his division with the use of his aggressive and crowd pleasing game. The Alliance team member made de De-La-Riva guard his weapon of choice, being a great influence in the evolution of the guard.
10th Place – Leo Vieira (Leozinho): 40 Points
Leo Vieira is a well known fighter who established himself as one of the best Nogi Jiu Jitsu competitors in the world. His acrobatic and slick style made him a fan favorite, and his fights against Mark Kerr, Shaolin Ribeiro, Rany Yahya will forever be remembered as some of the most entertaining grappling matches of all time.
Though this list is based only on competitive achievements, there are certain figures of BJJ that deserve their mention in the top of all time. These are Jiu Jitsu black belts who were part of an era where competition was active but records were poorly kept, and though they cannot be in an official listing of this website, they deserve the admiration of this great BJJ community by the strength of their achievements. And without any specific order, these men are:
Rickson Gracie: Often regarded as the best Jiu Jitsu fighter of all time, Rickson competed for years in hundreds of matches in several different disciplines (No Holds Barred, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Sambo, etc) with the only loss on record coming in a Sambo competition by points.
Royler Gracie: Another historic figure for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Royler Gracie has been a pillar of sport BJJ both as a competitor and as a coach and his contribute to Jiu Jitsu is not only displayed here by his own achievements but also by the achievements of his students Alexandre and Saulo Ribeiro at number 1 & 2 of this list. Royler was a fierce competitor from the 1980’s well into the 2000’s era, covering 3 decades of BJJ at the highest level. He was also the first featherweight in history to medal at the open weight division of the Mundial and he holds the record of more points scored in a match against an opponent.
Rolls Gracie: Rolls is another member of the Gracie family that is always present as one of the top athletes of all time, he was a creator of positions and one of the first people in Jiu Jitsu to believe in cross training, bringing a lot of Judo and Wrestling techniques to help grow BJJ. He was also the family’s top competitor in the 1970’s.
Cassio Cardoso: A student of Carlson Gracie, Cassio only had one loss in his competitive career, a loss to Marcelo Behring (which he avenged afterwards in an epic 90 minute battle). Cassio was regarded as the best student in the Carlson Gracie gym and one of the most complete fighters that ever lived.
João Alberto Barreto: Famous for being Gracie Jiu Jitsu’s top representative in the 1950’s, Joao Alberto spent his entire career without tasting the bitter flavour of defeat. He competed extensively (mainly in Vale Tudo matches) and is known to have never lost a fight.
Amauri Bitetti: the first open weight world champion, a deed he accomplished twice in his career, Amauri Bitetti was one of the top competitors of his generation, considered by most as the top man in BJJ after Rickson Gracie hung up his Jiu Jitsu gi.
Robson Moura: ”Robinho” was one of Jiu Jitsu’s greatest competitors, he ruled the super featherweight division like no other winning 6 world titles in his career. He also managed to win a world title on his first year after returning from retirement, having the biggest gap between wins (7 years).
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