2023 has been one of the biggest years in BJJ history, filled with countless exciting matches. The sport’s top male athletes have been battling it out to be considered BJJ’s best athletes.
Here are our choices for the top ten men’s BJJ competitors in 2023. Check out the highlights of each athlete’s 2023 season to see why they made the list.
#10 The Ruotolo Brothers
Going into the 2023 season, Tye and Kade Ruotolo were easily two of the best BJJ athletes in the world. Tye won the 2022 IBJJF World Championship, Kade won the 2023 ADCC, and a ONE Championship Grappling World Champion.
The two would rather have a light year, as Kade defended his ONE Championship title while Tye competed at Worlds. Kade would have successful title defenses, while Tye came up short of repeating as IBJJF champion.
Tye would look strong in the opening rounds at Worlds. Easily going through Rafael Anjos and Tarik Hopstock with submission wins.
But in the semifinals, Tye ran into Jansen Gomes, who had the tournament of his life—shutting down the former world champion in a 4-0 win.
Not the result Tye wanted, but he’ll be back stronger next year. The Ruotolo brothers will be a mainstay on our top BJJ competitor lists for years to come.
#9 Giancarlo Bodoni
In 2022, Giancarlo Bodoni was a name only known by hardcore grappling fans until he won at ADCC. That performance was one of the greatest runs by an athlete in ADCC history.
Bodoni put his nose to the grindstone and became one of the best grapplers in jiu jitsu. When Giancarlo submitted Lucas Barbosa in the finals, that was his I am him moment.
His 2023 has been a little less active with only eight matches in total with a 7-1 record. After losing a decision to Pedro Marinho at WNO, Bodoni would win two straight tournaments without being scored on.
We chose Giancarlo mostly because his performance at ADCC is still fresh in our minds. Don’t be surprised to see Bodoni pull off some big wins before the year ends.
#8 Tainan Dalpra
Tainan Dalpra, the 2x world champion, came into 2023 looking to mark himself as the world’s best BJJ competitor. After his spectacular rookie and sophomore years as a black belt, most fans expected Dalpra to roll through the competition.
He was on a mission to become one of the few athletes to win the four major IBJJF championships(IBJJF Worlds, European Open, Brazilian Nationals, and Pan Championship).
Going into worlds, Dalpra was undefeated, with a submission rate of over 70%. He would dominate his opponents using his incredible passing game and get their back to finish with a choke.
In the early rounds, Dalpra seemed that he would fulfill his promise of becoming a grand champion. He would face Jansen Gomes in the 82 kg finals, and the two would have a tactical war.
Gomes would win the battle to keep Dalpra from winning his third world title in a row. If Tainan had won, he probably would’ve been our choice for the best male BJJ competitor of 2023. It’s going to be fun to see Dalpra bounce back in the next competition season.
#7 Jansen Gomes
Jansen Gomes came into 2023 as a relatively unknown BJJ athlete and left a world champion. The top Checkmat athlete and winner of multiple UAEJJF/AJP tourneys flew under the radar going into the 2023 Worlds.
He started the year with gold medals at the European Open and AJPGD London event. Gomes would enter the 2023 Worlds with multiple tournament wins and only two defeats this year.
Nenego would use his guard passing game to shut down his first two opponents and finish them with chokes. His semi-final would be one of the most watched matches of the tournament.
Gomes faced Tye Rutolo, who was the second favorite to win the division. He would make a statement win by shutting down the former world champion 4-0.
This win would lead to a showdown with Tainan Dalpra. Jansen would shock the world. Beating another former world champion to earn his first IBJJF world title.
With that epic performance, Jansen Gomes earns himself on our top men’s BJJ Competitors of 2023 list.
#6 Lucas Pinheiro
Lucas Pinheiro has been considered one of the best lightweight athletes in the world for the last few years. Pinheiro has been coming into his own as a grappler in the last few years.
Winning big competitions like the AJP Grand Slam London, Brazilian Nationals, and the 2022 No-Gi World Championship. In 2023, we finally saw the Alliance athlete get over the hump to become one of the world’s best BJJ athletes.
Pinheiro would not lose again after losing to Fabricio Andre to start the year. He bounced back by choking all three of his opponents at the Brazilian Nationals before arriving at Worlds.
It wouldn’t be an easy road to the finals, as every round was a war for Lucas. Winning by advantages in his first two rounds and a hard-fought 3-2 win in the semifinals.
These battles would earn Pinheiro another battle in the finals against former world champion Thalison Soares. Neither athlete would be able to score on the other, but Pinheiro would earn one advantage to win.
Earning his first IBJJF World Championships and sixth on our top men’s BJJ competitors list of 2023.
#5 Felipe Andrew
Felipe Andrew has long been one of the best and most active athletes in the sport for years. He has faced all of the world’s best grapplers and even beaten most of them.
Andrew has had a lot of success in his career and has won all of the biggest titles, but the biggest one. Since becoming a black belt pro in 2018, Andrew has never been able to win the IBJJF Worlds.
2023 would be the year when Felipe Andrew would finally become a world-champion black belt. At Worlds, Andrew would not get a point scored on him. He won all four matches to earn his career’s very first world title.
The crowd roared when they finally saw Felipe Andrew win the title that was evading him for years. An excellent 2023 for Felipe, which easily earns him a spot on our top men’s BJJ competitor list.
#4 Eric Munis
The multi-time heavyweight world champion from Dream Art, Eric Munis, had one of the best years of his career. After losing to Nicholas Meragali in Pan American finals, Munis would go on an insane run.
Submitting nearly all of his opponents as the year rolled on. Including two athletes on our list, Felipe Andrew and Victor Hugo. This success would lead Munis to the 2023 Worlds, where he was on a quest to become double gold world champ.
Munis would make easy work of the heavyweight division to face former world and ADCC champion Kaynan Duarte. The two would fight and end their match tied. Leading to a referee’s decision that awarded Munis his third world title.
Eric looked like he would become a double gold world champion in the absolute finals. Although, Victor Hugo would hit his patented kneebar on him to become a double gold world champion. If Eric won that match, he would’ve gone above Victor Hugo, who’s right above him.
#3 Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo is a fan favorite that has been one of BJJ’s top-heavy/super-heavy grapplers. Going into 2023, a 2x world champion and World No-Gi Champion.
The only loss that Hugo would suffer in 2023 was against Eric Munis at the BJJ Stars Absolute Tournament. After this loss, Hugo would go on an unbeaten streak, where he didn’t allow a single point scored on him.
Going undefeated with eleven submission wins during this stretch. Victor made easy work of the super-heavy division to win his third world title.
He would then outdo his impressive performance with an incredible run in the absolute division—meeting rival Eric Munis in the finals, who was also vying for his second gold medal.
Victor would bring the crowd to their feet with the best match of his career. Hitting his patented kneebar on Munis to become a double gold world champion.
#2 Nicholas Meregali
For the last few years, Nicholas Meregali has been one of the best grapplers on the planet. In 2022, Nicholas made a career statement by winning his 3rd world title and an impressive ADCC debut. Earning 2nd and 3rd place with less than a year of no-gi training.
Meregali is known as one of the best grapplers in the world because he’s a finisher. As of now he currently holds a submission rate of 72%.
In 2023, Nicholas upheld his reputation as one of the sport’s best finishers. Submitting everyone but one opponent to win double gold at the Pan American. The one he didn’t finish was world champ Eric Munis, who he beat 11-0.
Nicholas would call his shot in his next match against WNO champion Pedro Marinho. Claiming that he would win by triangle choke. Meregali would keep his word and defeat Pedro with a triangle choke.
After that win, Meregali laid down an open challenge. He believes he’s the best men’s BJJ competitor in the world and will take on anyone.
We’re eager to see who Nicholas might face before the year ends.
#1 Gordon Ryan
Gordon Ryan is our choice for the best men’s BJJ competitor of 2023. This may cause a dispute since it hasn’t competed in 2023, but hear us out.
Ryan is the reigning multi-time ADCC champion that has not been defeated in over five years. He hasn’t just beaten his opponents, but he has dominated them.
Gordon currently holds a submission rate of 82% which hasn’t been seen since the Roger Gracie era. Until Gordon Ryan is beaten or fully retires, he will remain the world’s top men’s BJJ competitor.