The current narrative in modern MMA today is the dominance of wrestling as the best base for the modern fighter. It is a hard narrative to counter and despite some heated opposition, may very well be true. One only needs to look at the roster of current UFC champions who have wrestling as their base: Jon Jones (widely considered to be the best MMA fighter of all time), Daniel Cormier, Demetrious Johnson, Tyron Woodley, Stipe Micocic, and Cody Gabrandt.
However, because of the dominant narrative that wrestling is the best base, this gives the opportunity for outstanding fighters with BJJ as their base to stand out from the crowd. In this article, we pay tribute to these excellent BJJ MMA fighters. We will categorize them into 2 categories: UFC and non-UFC.
Outstanding BJJ MMA Fighters Competing Today
#1: Demian Maia
Boasting a highly impressive 24-6 MMA record with an 18-6 record in the UFC, this ADCC champion and multiple time BJJ medalist, has been one of the most dominant BJJ MMA fighters around today and is currently considered the #1 contender in the welterweight division. While he had some missteps in the past, opting to rely more on striking, after he dropped down to welterweight from middleweight, he’s been on a 6 fight winning streak.
#2: Fabricio Werdum
With a 21-6-1 overall MMA record and a 9-3 UFC record, ‘Vai Cavalo’ is a multiple time World and ADCC champion. He’s also of course most famous for taking down ‘The Last Emperor’ Fedor Emelianenko via triangle armbar. Prior to his loss to Stipe Micocic, he was on a 6 fight win streak in the UFC; since that loss he has once again defeated Travis Browne. Known for his deadly guard, look for Werdum to continue making his mark in the UFC. Werdum was also famous in the BJJ world for his match against Fernando Terere and his BJJ to MMA transition since then has been very successful.
#3: Ronaldo Souza
As he is better known, Jacare has been one of the most successful BJJ MMA fighters of all time, with his explosive BJJ game making for an easy transition from BJJ to MMA. With a 23-4-1 overall MMA record and a 6-1 UFC record, this Absolute World champion and ADCC champion’s performances has had many people questioning why the promotion is not offering him more frequent fights, with many considering him as a serious contender for the middleweight division championship.
#4: The Diaz brothers
Ok we cheated a little with this one; putting two of them in a single spot. But still, these BJJ blackbelts, known for not only their excellent ground game but great boxing as well (plus of course their outspoken love of the green herb). While they do not have a storied list of BJJ competitive accomplishments to their name, there is little doubt that BJJ is their background. Nick boasts a 26-9-2 record while Nate a 19-11 record, including of course his famous submission win over Conor McGregor.
#5: Kron Gracie
Rounding off our list is Kron Gracie, an ADCC champion, which might be a controversial choice given his relatively untested 4-0 MMA record, with his latest win being a Rear Naked Choke over Tatsuya Kawajiri in the Rizin fighting championships. What sets Kron apart though, other than his pedigree as the son of the great Rickson Gracie is his habit of jumping closed guard in his fights and then dominating from there. While critics point out that such tactics would not work at the higher levels, it will definitely be interesting to see his progression. Kron might be the purest example of a BJJ to MMA fighter that we have ever seen.