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BJJ Fanatics Instructionals
BJJ Fanatics Instructionals

Top BJJ Fighters in MMA

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Nicholas Meregali Instructionals

This is the updated version of the top BJJ fighters in MMA today. The previous list was based on the BJJ achievements of the fighters which may or may not have translated well into Mixed Martial Arts, however, the list was rather out of date and I chose to re-think the selection process. For this article, I chose the fighters that use the best quality Jiu Jitsu in their Mixed Martial Arts bouts and against high quality opposition. This is a tricky subject as is the Top BJJ Competitors of All Time list, so I expect some disagreement, but for now these are the guys that BJJ Heroes sees displaying the “arte suave” best. I also chose to leave a few guys that have competed in MMA, such as Xande Ribeiro or Marcelo Garcia, but that haven’t really embraced the career and have kind of left MMA in the back burner.

Best 10 Jiu Jitsu Fighters in MMA

1. Ronaldo Jacare Souza (Middleweight)
The powerful middleweight from Vila Velha in Brazil has had a fantastic career since his debut loss against Jorge Patino, collecting submission wins on his way to the top of Strikeforce Middleweight Division and now the UFC. An Henrique Machado black belt, Jacaré is at the top of this pile not only because he has one of the best BJJ records on paper, but also because his jiu jitsu prowess is unrivalled in the middleweight division.

Notable Career Wins:

  • Jason Miller (decision)
  • Matt Lindland (submission)
  • Robbie Lawler (submission)

2. Roger Gracie (Middleweight)
Understandably, BJJ fans had a lot of hope for Roger as he stepped in to MMA. The Gracie is the most decorated Jiu Jitsu fighter in the world, and though he is yet to meet the top fighters in his weight division, he has managed to submit several seasoned fighters as he tested MMA waters. His career is still in shaky ground after his loss to “King Mo” Lawall, but there is still hope he will make a solid run in MMA.

Notable Career Wins:

  • Trevor Prangley (submission)
  • Kevin Randleman (submission)
  • Yuki Kondo (submission)

3. Fabricio Werdum (Heavyweight)
The former world BJJ Champion has had his ups and downs in the heavyweight division, fighting against several high profile fighters in different shows such as the now extinct Pride FC, Strikeforce and the UFC. Having struggled with the striking and wrestling aspect of the game for years, he managed to sustain an MMA career using solely his high level ground game, and the fact that he has submitted true legends of MMA grant him the 3rd place.

Notable Career Wins:

    • Alistair Overeem (submission)
    • Fedor Emelianenko (submission)
    • Antonio Minotauro (submission)
    • Antonio Silva (decision)

4. Robert Drysdale (Middleweight)
Drysdale has hit the ground running in MMA with a series of first round submissions that got him noticed by Joe Silva, UFC’s matchmaker. Now the former ADCC open weight champion (one of the few men that have submitted Marcelo Garcia) gets a chance to test himself against the UFC’s elite fighters.


5. Leonardo Santos (lightweight)

Still dipping his toes in the MMA world is the 4 time BJJ World Cup champion from Nova Uniao. After a very rough patch with the BAMMA organization, with several complications and complete lack of respect for the fighter that is Leonardo Santos, Leo returned with the Ultimate Fighter Brazil II, making to the final of the event, showing that he is one of the top MMA fighters in Brazil.

Notable Career Wins:

  • Rafael “Manteiga” (decision)
  • Patolino (submission)


6. Demian Maia (Middleweight)
Just like the fighters above him, Demian Maia is one of the most decorated BJJ fighters in mixed martial arts. The man that was one of the main figures of the “revolution” at the Alliance BJJ team, Demian is also a former ADCC champion, a title only worthy of the best submission grapplers in the world. His superior Jiu Jitsu helped him make a serious run to the UFC title, losing by decision to the best middleweight fighter in the world (Anderson Silva) at UFC 112. Maia has one of the best “killer instincts” in the division having achieved several “Submission of the Night” awards by Ultimate Fighting Championship organization.

Notable Career Wins:

  • Chael Sonnen (submission)
  • Jon Fitch (decision)
  • Dong Hyun Kim (TKO)
  • Rick Story (submission)


7. Gilbert Burns (Lightweight)

The 2011 World Jiu Jitsu champion has fully committed to Mixed Martial Arts and joined the Vitor Belfort camp leaving his Atos team mates behind. He has stacked a few victories already in a very short amount of time. This enthusiasm has earned him a contract with the UFC.


8. Bibiano Fernandes (Featherweight)

The real life “Flash” is not Barry Allen, but the man from Manaus, Bibiano Fernandes. The 5 time BJJ world champion earned his nickname as he tore Jiu Jitsu’s featherweight division apart. Now in MMA, he has managed to reach the top of mixed martial arts in the same division fighting mainly in Japan.

Notable Career Wins:

  • Antonio Banuelos (TKO)
  • Takafumi Otsuka (submission)
  • Joachim Hansen (decision)
  • Masakazu Imanari (decision)
  • Joe Warren (submission)


9. Vinny Magalhaes (Light heavyweight)

After a very short spell at the UFC, Vinny Magalhães has returned to the cage stronger and more committed, keeping extremely busy in the year of 2011 at the M1 Global organization. His creative style is very enjoyable, and as he evolves in MMA, hopefully we will see more and more of Mr Magalhães in the top events in the world.

Notable Career Wins:

  • Chris Davis (submission)


10. Rousimar Palhares (Middleweight)
Try rolling with “Toquinho” and I can almost guarantee you will leave the mat limping. The Jiu Jitsu black belt from Brazilian Top Team seems to have somewhat of a foot fetish as most of his wins come by ankle lock, a submission that fighters (should) know is coming, but Palhares still manages to finish.

Notable Career Wins:

  • Daniel Acacio (submission)
  • Ivan Salaverry (submission)
  • Jeremy Horn (decision)
  • Tomasz Drwal (submission)
  • Dan Miller (decision)
John Danaher BJJ Escapes


  • AlaskanKid says:

    Why is Rickson not on this list?

  • Dalton leitz says:

    I trained with andre galvao a few months back truely amazing bjj competitor and teacher.

  • rbakman says:

    Maia needs to be top 3. Your talking about BJJ in MMA, so why not judge on the bases of how they do using BJJ IN MMA.

    P.S. The site is awesome. 🙂

  • jhf884 says:

    Where's Marcelo Garcia? Pure BJJ accomplishments should place him ~ #4 on this list.

  • Mike W. says:

    No mention of Murilo Bustamante? The man has represented the Jiu Jitsu Flag since 1991!

    Hes shown tremendous grappling in almost everyone of his fights. Lindland, Liddell, Rampage, Hendo, Erickson.

    Come on guys!

  • admin says:

    Mike, Murilo is 43 years old and semi retired. He made a brief appearance in 2010, after a 3 or 4 year lay off and I dont see him returning anytime soon (maybe once again to close his career in style), so he is not on the forefront of MMA anymore. Great legend of the sport, but not active these days

  • admin says:

    jhf Marcelo hasnt fought since 2007, and that was the only fight in his MMA career. He has since cut the cord with MMA and announced it publicly.

  • Mrk says:

    Paulo Filho ?

  • Mike says:

    Thats a resonable response, and i appreciate it greatly. Im from Brazilian Top Team, so i felt the need to ask about Master Murilo.

    Thanks for the response. Love the site.


    BTT Long Beach

  • admin says:

    DanielJ, Jon is a good fighter, very enjoyable, but he hasn't fought since 2006(!) He has signed with the UFC which is intriguing. We will se how he handles himself after the long layoff.

    Mkr, Paulo Filho is not the fighter he once was. Hopefully he will come back

  • DanielJ says:

    I think you should honor Jon Olav Einemo on that list!

  • Manu says:

    Babalu Sobral ?

  • Mayk says:

    (This list is out of order)

    Rodrigo Nogueira 25 ??? 25 ??? kkkkkkkk

    The highest finisher of mma!Rodrigo nogueira is the first. number 1.

    1- Rodrigo Nogueira, 2- Demian Maia, 3-Ronaldo Jacare, 4- Werdum, 5- Aoki, 6- Jake Shields 7 – PAULO FILHO(Legend of jiu jitsu and MMA) . . . Bj Penn, Arona, . .

    (Roger So faced men weak)!

  • Intermec says:


  • Rezwan says:

    Other honorable mentions:
    Marcus Aurelio
    Gleison Tibau
    Daniel Roberts
    Anthony Pettis
    Renato Sobral
    Paul Sass
    Cole Miller
    Micah Miller
    Jeff Monson
    Alberto Crane
    Jon Olav Einemo
    Matt Serra
    Frank Mir
    Wilson Gouveia
    Baret Yoshida
    Delson Heleno
    Dustin Hazelett
    Hermes França
    Paulo Filho
    Dean Lister

  • Greg says:

    I like the list, but I wouldn't rank Roger ahead of Maia, Werdum, Aoki, or Shields until Roger has more wins. He undoubtedly has the best sport grappling of that group, but we all know (or should know, at least) that sport grappling doesn't necessarily translate to MMA success. As big a fan as I am of Roger, I feel that he needs 4-6 more fights before he belongs at or near the top of this list. Just my $0.02.

  • namename says:

    Nogueria should NOT!!!! be #25

    thats an insult

  • deven says:

    no 25??? bj like 18??? Jacare' doesn't belong at #1… and this has nothing to do with the list, but just for the record aoki is the most 1 deminsional fighter since the pure style vs pure style days of early UFC… fantastic grappler, but i HATE him

  • Erica says:

    Why not Giva "The arm collector" Santana??? Just signed with Bellator!

  • andrew says:

    here is Hatsu Hioki??

  • ratchola says:


  • Reggie Winterberg says:

    With all the respects for any Comment.

    Anf all of the fighters!!!

    If Roberto aka Cyborg Abreu fighting for the UFC.

    WHats conna happen???

    A question for you all and the Admin.

    Greetz and Eespect Reggie Jiu jitsu Factory the Netherlands.

  • Tony Quagliata says:

    Where is Matt Serra? Former UFC Welterweight champion. ADCC silver medalist, Pan Am Champion and many more titles. You've got to be kidding me!

  • Andrew says:

    Gonna bug you again with where is HATSU HIOKI!!

  • Jesus says:

    Sorry but this ranking isn't respectable if you didn't put Royce Gracie in the first place. No one ever beat too many good fighters in one night like he did in the early editions of the UFC. How dare you guys to compare Jacare with Gracie´s records. BJJ in MMA =Royce Gracie.

    • bjjheroes says:

      I hope I am not blaspheming by saying you are wrong but here I am saying it (I repent, I repent!)

      The list is about today's fighters, Royce is not fighting now a days… 😉

  • Jiujiteiro says:

    GENKI SUDO should absolutely be on this list!

  • Francisco says:

    Ronaldo Jacaré deserve to be the mumber one. His Jiu Jitsu skills in MMA are outstanding! But I think Rousimar Palhares and Charles Oliveira should be in better positions.

  • Jocke says:

    André Galvao really should be in the very top of that list.

  • Steven says:

    What about Frank Mir?

  • thelion says:

    lol at someone saying anthony pettis should be on the list. three subs in MMA, and none of those guys weren't even B class fighters.

  • Myagi says:

    Guys, all you complaining about the rankings should look at the title of the list, its the top BJJ fighters in MMA TODAY! That means Murilo, Royce, Rickson, Marcelinho etc. Personally I don't see how you can place Filho and Jon Olav Einemo on such a list, simply because they have done little or nothing as of late. I think the list is a pretty spot on given the title!

  • Steve Larsen says:

    How the times have changed. A lot of these guys have stepped back in the rankings while others have moved up. Of all time? It's so hard to judge and compare because they were from different era's. Using your list from above I'd have Jacare (unfortunately cause I love him,) Burns, Maia (he used to have it but now he wants to strike,) and Santos off the list. I'd also have Diaz, Palhares, and Henderson higher on the list. I don't know how much I like Palhares' mma but his bjj for mma is scary.

  • Andrew says:


    • Steve Larsen says:

      Well these lists are always changing and impossible to include everybody on. I guess I'm not too familiar with Hioki but I bet Miller made the list based on his black belt status, plus he may have just submitted Oliveira with that kneebar.

      I think more people that others have mentioned should go before Hioki.

  • chris says:

    what about BJ Penn?? Nick Diaz. how the fuck could you.put Nate on there and not Nick?? oh and Frank Mir as well. Big Nog and little nog etc

  • Paul says:

    Now there’s an all-star list of fighters if I ever saw one. I can only imagine how much training they had to go through to get to this point.

  • joe says:

    Allan Goes???

  • Chael Sonnen says:

    It's a joke that Chael Sonnen ISN'T Number 1 on this list!!!

  • Brandon says:

    Bibi number 8 really !? Multi time Mundial champ, Dream champ and tourny winner in two weight divisions, he also successfully defended the belt in both weight divisions. Plus he just won the belt for One fc as well. Other then maybe Jacare who else has done as much in BOTH sports being the key word as The Flash. WHo ? No one ! Thats who Bjj Heros. Dropping the ball just cause he fights in Japan

  • NotsoDelariva says:

    where is shinya aoki in this list?

  • Vini says:

    Sergio Moraes

    3 times world champion!!

  • Minotauro Nogeira?? Frank Mir?? Bj Penn ??

  • Royce says:

    How do you have Maia at 6?he should be top 3 at least.

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