Greatest BJJ Fighters of All Time
Ever wondered who that might be? Here is a list of some of the best in this magnificent sport.
There are many variants and possible choices that I have definitely gained a few grey hair trying to solve this one, however, the choice is done. Because it was so hard to base the selection just on the results (lot’s of ties), I had to take into account the fashion in which the fighters achieved their victories to get the end result. Here goes:
1. Roger Gracie, Team Gracie Barra-London
Major Titles: 14x World Champion; ADCC Champion; European BJJ Champion; Pan American Champion; Brazilian National Champion
Like stated above, the selection is based not only on results but also on the manner in which these fighters obtained their glory. Roger is a rare case of someone that wins pretty much everything he competes in, and does it in incredible fashion. He has won 3 Absolute (open weight) World titles – something never accomplished before him, he has also won more World Championships then anyone and he hasn’t been tapped in competition since he was a blue belt (so I am told). On top of this he has submitted everyone he met in the last few years in both the Gi and NoGi competitions (the only man to survive his onslaught was Ricardo Abreu in 2010). He is not the fastest man in Jiu Jitsu or the most explosive one, or even the strongest one, but what he lacks in any of these fields, he excels in composure and technique… Best Jiu Jitsu practitioner ever, hands down.
2. Robson Moura, Team Nova Uniao
Major Titles: 6x World Champion; Pan American Champion
The most dominant Super featherweight in history is another case of someone who won, and won impressively. He went from winning the Purple Belt World Championship in 1997 to winning the same event – this time as a black belt – only one year later. He reigned that division until 2002 when internal disputes between his team (Nova Uniao) and the federation took him away from CBJJ related tournaments. He then left Brazil to the USA to establish his academy there, only to return in 2007 and win again his division. The gap between his prime days and his successful return to competition at an international event made his accomplishment all the more impressive, and that is why he is placed as number 2.
3. Pe de Pano, Team Gracie Barra-Rio de Janeiro
Main Titles: 6x BJJ World Champion; 5x BJJ Brazilian National Champion; 8x BJJ Pan American Champion; European Champion; ADCC Champion
Marcio Cruz was arguably the most hated Jiu Jitsu fighter of his generation, always a trouble maker and hot head, he was also a brilliant fighter with a list of accomplishments longer then his arm. His guard game was second to none and he was probably the brightest star of a camp teeming with talent in what was one of the best Gracie Barra teams to have ever competed. Mr. Cruz is also one of a very small elite group of men that can say they have beat Roger Gracie in competition (2003).
4. Xande Ribeiro, Team Gracie Humaitá:
Main Titles: 6x World Jiu Jitsu Champion; 4x Pan American Champion; ADCC Champion
Alexandre might not have been at the top of his game in the World Championships (Mundials) 2010, MMA training and a series of injuries that plagued most of his career hindered his run to another gold medal, but still he made it to the finals. This was a testament of how much of a “gamer” this fighter is, 2 World Titles in the open weight division and 4 more in his weight class are the cement that holds this fighter 4th place of this list.
5. Roberto Magalhaes “Roleta”, Team Gracie Barra-Rio de Janeiro
Main Titles: 5x World Champion; 4x Pan American Champion
More recognised in the Jiu Jitsu World as “Roleta” (Roulette), Magalhaes had a legendary guard, with which he defeated most great fighters of his generation. His trademark moves (many created by the man himself) are still used today and his inverted guard is a reference in current Jiu Jitsu evolving as time goes by through the hands of current players. But if not for his amazing technical legacy, he was also a 5x World Champion and a definite stud in the late 1990’s (early 2000’s) Today he is a successful BJJ instructor (one of the many that migrated to the US in the first decade of the XXI’st Century.
6. Saulo Ribeiro, Team Gracie Humaitá
Main Titles: 5x World Champion; 2x Pan American Champion; World NoGi Champion; 2x ADCC Champion
His top game was serious business, this Judo and BJJ Black Belt used his superior throws and balance to dominate Jiu Jitsu for many years, winning major tournaments in both BJJ and Submission Wrestling. A peculiarity of Saulo was always his fluctuations in weight categories, going up and down, winning several different divisions.
7. Royler Gracie Team Gracie Humaitá
Main Titles: 4x World Champion; 2x Pan American Champion; 3x ADCC Champion
The Gracie-Humaitá head instructor was the first king of the featherweight division in the late 1990’s with wins over all the big names of his time. Though he was only a featherweight, Royler competed often in open weight divisions, spending many years without being submitted and winning against many of his larger opponents, reaching the semi finals of the World Championship’s open weight division in 1997
8. Fernando Augusto, Team Alliance, Brasa and TT
Main Titles: 6x World Champion; 4x World Cup Champion; Pan American Champion;
The most charismatic fighter of all time had to be on this list, though his recent history has been less then memorable, he was one of the most loved fighters of his generation. He turned BJJ into more than a martial art or a competitive sport when he competed; he turned it into a true spectacle which helped bring the sport forward. He was also an important card in the open weight divisions reaching it’s finals on several occasions.
9. Marcelo Garcia, Team Alliance
Main Titles: 3x ADCC champion; 4x World champion at black belt; Pan-Am Champion; 3x Brazilian National Champion
Marcelinho is another rare case of someone who wins and wins impressively, always looking for the finish, he has been running through the Middleweight division at a World stage for some years (the toughest division in BJJ) and not only does he seem to have an easy time with the Gi (kimono) he also translates his submission based game amazingly well to NoGi competitions. He is today the best Middleweight in the World and definitely one of the best ever.
10. Rubens Charles, Team Alliance
Main Titles: 5x BJJ World Champion; 4x Pan American Champion
Hard not to put the former “Terere” student in a top 10 list, he has been at the top of his division for the past 6 years winning 5 of those on a row and finishing 2nd in 2010 at the Mundials (World Championships).