From early on in our editorial proposal BJJ Heroes has tried to push for a unified ranking system for our sport, one free from social media popularity or favoritism. Having played with different ideas over the years, on how to dig up the fairest results, we believe we have found the best method – or the closest thing to it. For the past 5 years, we have left this task to the numbers – allowing tournament wins to dictate who are the best in the jiu-jitsu business.
From 2015 onwards our stats have combined tournament wins with head-to-head clashes between the top-ranked athletes. This, we believe, has produced the fairest results. To check the results of the previous years visit 2015, 2016 and 2017 BJJ rankings pages.
This year we have returned to that same formula – for a more complete explanation of the BJJ Heroes ranking method, please read below, otherwise, click on the desired weight class link:
- Light Feather/Pluma
- Ultra Heavy/Pesadissimo
The BJJ Heroes method is simple, we gather data from the most respected tournaments on the Brazilian jiu-jitsu calendar and add-up all the podium placers to create an unbiased shortlist of the top BJJ competitors. From this shortlist we gather the results from direct matches between top 5 ranked competitors. Meaning that if two BJJ Heroes ranked black belts meet at any tournament, whoever wins will receive extra points. Those extra points work the following way: If the winner of the bout is lower ranked than the loser he will receive 3 points, if the opposite occurs 1 point will be attributed.
– Competitor A won the Mundial = 6pts
– Competitor B won the Pans = 4pts
#1 Competitor A 6pts
#2 Competitor B 4pts
If the two go against each other at any given 2018 event – Example 1 in case Competitor A beats Competitor B, we will add 1 point to A. Example 2 if Competitor B beats Competitor A, we will add 3 points for B as he was lower ranked.
Overall Ranking (Example 1)
#1 Competitor A 7pts
#2 Competitor B 4pts
Overall Ranking (Example 2)
#1 Competitor B 7pts
#2 Competitor A 6pts
This measure was idealized to prevent successful athletes who only compete once or twice per year from missing our standings. The tournament ranking used by us collects points from the following events:
|Points||European||Pans||Brasileiro||World Pro||Worlds||ADCC||NoGi World|
ROOSTER WEIGHT [GALO] 57kg / 126lbs
The retirement of Caio Terra from the main grappling circuit seemed to have left an open door for Bruno Malfacine to walk through and grab the number 1 position of the ‘Galo’ ranking. This, however, proved to be tougher than initially thought as the roosterweight division was one of the most contested weight classes of the year.
Granted that much of this challenge to the #1 rank came down due to Malfacine’s lack of action throughout the year, given that the 10x world champion only entered one tournament in 2018. Technicalities aside, Malfa shared the BJJ Heroes pole position with Carpe Diem athlete, Tomoyuki Hashimoto, an athlete who earned medals in 3 big tournaments this year, looking nearly unstoppable with only one loss at roosterweight (against Malfacine).
Another surprise on this year’s standings was the inclusion of 3 Japanese black belts on the Top 5, one of those being the aforementioned #1. A sign of how bright the future seems to be for this country.
TOP 5 RANKED ROOSTERWEIGHTS
#1. Bruno Malfacie / Tomoyuki Hashimoto (8 pts)
#2. Rodnei Barbosa / Cleito Soares (7 pts)
#3. Hiago Gama / José Carlos Lima (6 pts)
#4. Koji Shibamoto (4 pts)
#5. Nobuhiro Sawada / William Oliveira (3 pts)
LIGHT FEATHERWEIGHT [PLUMA] 64kg / 141lbs
In a war of attrition, it was Miyao who made the #1 spot of the ‘pluma’ weight class by showing consistency and persistence. After a busy 2017, where Mikey Musumeci competed for every major gi tournament in the circuit, earning the BJJ Heroes End of Year #1 rank, Musumeci slowed down for 2018. On the other side of the division was João Miyao who picked up the pace by winning the Pans, Abu Dhabi Pro and No-Gi Worlds, an impressive list of accomplishments by one of the hardest workers in this sport.
TOP 5 RANKED LIGHT-FEATHERWEIGHTS
#1. João Miyao (16 pts)
#2. Hiago George (10 pts)
#3. Mikey Musumeci (8 pts)
#4. Ary Farias (7 pts)
#5. Paulo Miyao (6 pts)
FEATHERWEIGHT [PENA] 70kg / 154lbs
One of the evenest weight classes in our sport/martial art, the ‘Peso Pena’ only got more balanced since the retirement of last year’s number one featherweight, Rubens Charles. On a race with plenty of Featherweight King candidates, it was Grippo who came out on top, by showing consistency and maturity.
Grippo’s path to the #1 rank was not an easy one by design. Gianni tested his skills repeatedly and on a number of rulesets and weight classes, both with and without the gi. A very complete competitor and prized possession for New York’s grappling scene.
TOP 5 RANKED FEATHERWEIGHTS
#1. Gianni Grippo (17 pts)
#2. Jamil Hill (11 pts)
#3. Márcio André / Rafael Mansur (10 pts)
#4. Leo Saggioro (8 pts)
#5. Osvaldo Moizinho (5 pts)
LIGHT WEIGHT [LEVE] 76kg / 168lbs
Lucas Lepri remains as the number 1 lightweight in the world of jiu-jitsu, even as he approaches Master 2 eligibility, a true ambassador for precision over athleticism in our martial art. Although another year passed for Lucas, unbeaten and unscored, Lepri’s challengers are getting closer, and just two points separated the 4 athletes ranked #2 from the champion this year. 2018 promises to be an exciting period for the lightweights.
TOP RANKED 5 LIGHTWEIGHTS
#1. Lucas Lepri (8 pts)
#2. Renato Canuto / JT Torres / Masahiro Iwasaki / Vitor Oliveira (6 pts)
#3. Yan Lucas / Espen Mathiesen / Michael Langhi (5 pts)
#4. Hugo Marques (4 pts)
#5. Michael Liera / Jhonny Loureiro (3 pts)
MIDDLEWEIGHT [MÉDIO] 82kg/181lbs
For the first time since reaching the black belt division we have both Marcos Tinoco and Isaque Bahiense at the top of the middleweight division, two very different styles of play, though equally effective. Another new face – this time to the overall ranking of the exciting Scandinavian guard master, Tommy Langaker. The list is complete with 4 more juggernauts of the game in Hinger, Arges, Canuto, and Sousa.
One of the most interesting peculiarities on this middleweight list is that all 7 ranked athletes have very exciting, yet distinct games. A stark contrast from some of the other, more homogenous, weight classes.
TOP 5 RANKED MIDDLEWEIGHTS
#1. Marcos Tinoco / Isaque Bahiense (15 pts)
#2. Tommy Langaker (10 pts)
#3. Josh Hinger / Gabriel Arges (6 pts)
#4. Jaime Canuto (4 pts)
#5. Otavio Sousa (2 pts)
MEDIUM HEAVY-WEIGHT [MEIO PESADO] 88kg / 194lbs
The Incredible Hulk made a huge statement this year, scoring the most points across all weight classes. A dominant year for the Atos team black belt who went undefeated in his weight class during 2018, after coming in 2nd last year on the BJJ Heroes ranking. Not far behind Lucas were two newcomers, namely Gustavo Batista and Rudson Mateus, who proved the gap between high-level brown belt and black belt is getting narrower.
TOP 5 RANKED MEDIUM-HEAVYWEIGHTS
#1. Lucas Barbosa (22 pts)
#2. Gustavo Batista (14 pts)
#3. Rudson Mateus (9 pts)
#4. Horlando Monteiro (7 pts)
#5. Renato Cardoso (4 pts)
HEAVYWEIGHT [PESADO] 94kg / 207lbs
The one and only Leandro Lo did it again! 2018 marks Lo’s 3rd different weight class #1 ranking. Lo looked terrific throughout the year, up until his injury – which occurred during the IBJJF World Championship final. Although recovering from his shoulder for the second half of 2018, Leandro still managed to lead the group with a comfortable margin.
An interesting caveat to keep in mind when assessing this list is how different the ranking could have been, had Cornelius’ IBJJF World Championship refereeing blunder worked out differently.
TOP 5 RANKED HEAVYWEIGHTS
#1. Leandro Lo (20 pts)
#2. Keenan Cornelius (15 pts)
#3. Felipe Pena (10 pts)
#4. Patrick Gaudio (7 pts)
#5. Fellipe Andrew (5 pts)
SUPER HEAVYWEIGHT [SUPER PESADO] 100kg / 221lbs
Without a doubt, Mahamed Aly’s best year so far, as a black belt. The young Brazilian born, Team Lloyd Irvin standout has reached peak performance in 2018, combining his experience, athleticism, and technique perfectly. Aly is very young and still has room to grow, and growing he should as there are equally young and talented competitors biting his ankles at the moment, waiting for their time, namely Meregali and Pereira who looked fantastic this year.
TOP 5 RANKED SUPER-HEAVYWEIGHTS
#1. Mahamed Aly (10 pts)
#2. Nicholas Meregali (9 pts)
#3. Gutemberg Pereira (8 pts)
#4. Igor Schneider / Nelton Pontes (3 pts)
#5. Eliot Kelly (2 pts)
ULTRA HEAVYWEIGHT [PESADÍSSIMO] + 100kg / 221lbs
Although with lesser steam than in previous years Marcus Almeida is still reigning the ultra heavyweight division comfortably.
One of the most interesting aspects of this 2018 ranking is the inclusion of the first ever exclusive no-gi competitor. We are obviously referencing Gordon Ryan, who achieved the #3 spot by competing solely in one of our ranked events, winning his weight class and the absolute.
Another year and unfortunately the numbers of female athletes have not yet reached the volume of competitors warrant a numbers-based ranking.
Take into account that many athletes who medal in the top BJJ tournaments we reference above, do so without winning one single match. This was the case in almost every major IBJJF event we use for the ranking, deeming this exercise fruitless for the female division. We hope to see bigger brackets next year, which would warrant the addition of a female section to this article.