Table of Contents
- 16 best BJJ Fighters in UFC History
The UFC Championship was cofounded by Brazilian martial artist Rorion Gracie and businessman Art Davie to determine the most effective martial art out of various disciplines. Initially, there were very few rules, but later on, fighters began to adopt techniques from several disciplines to gain an advantage due to the new rules.
BJJ is considered the most effective technique for a smaller fighter to overcome a larger opponent. Also, BJJ trains fighters to have better body coordination, making it an essential base for many MMA fighters.
The best BJJ contenders in UFC are the people who have a balanced skillset. They can use striking and wrestling along with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to control their opponents on the ground. There are numerous, gifted BJJ professionals in UFC who are in the prime and masters of their craft.
As the years have gone on, the skill level of MMA fighters has continued to increase. More and more MMA fighters have emerged with each generation. And more incredible fighters have won prestigious reputations that have left their mark on history, serving as inspiration for future fighters to aspire to.
16 Best BJJ Fighters in UFC History
1. Royce Gracie
Royce Gracie is the one who paved the way for BJJ’s inclusion in MMA. In 1993, at the first UFC, people witnessed Royce’s victory over many ferocious wrestlers and boxers. Royce Gracie is the winner of three UFC tournaments. His MMA record is 11 out of 15 wins just by submissions alone. He also holds the record of the longest UFC fight at about 36 minutes. Even in the modern era of BJJ and MMA, Royce’s brilliant performance in UFC has become globally renowned.
2. Rickson Gracie
Rickson Gracie is considered a mythical legend amongst BJJ grapplers in the UFC. He was given his black belt by Rorion Gracie and achieved a 10th-degree red belt in BJJ. In judo, he achieved a black belt under Georges Mehdi. He has won many times at the Vale Tudo tournaments, Pride FC, and C2K: Colosseum. He has won with unique and aggressive BJJ combat skills, subduing most of his opponents in the first round of most matches. His MMA record suggests 11 wins out of 11 fights. Rickson always defends the honor of BJJ by winning competitions with impressive BJJ skills.
3. Nate Diaz
Nate Diaz is a well-known black bet BJJ and UFC fighter who has a competitive edge over his opponents due to his splendid grappling skills. Nate, the brother of Nick Diaz, is a Strikeforce Welterweight Champion. He is a menacing ground grappler but also a highly skilled striker. Beating Conor McGregor at UFC 196 was one of his most memorable victories. Nate takes him down by securing a submission in just a couple of rounds. His MMA record is 20 wins in the lightweight and welterweight divisions.
4. George St-Pierre
George St-Pierre is one of the most prestigious former MMA fighters, known for his excellent moves and jiu-jitsu skills. His MMA record is 26 wins, eight by knockout, six by submission, and 12 by decision. He has the honor of earning many distinct wins in the UFC welterweight division, the most takedowns in UFC history, and the third most consecutive title defenses in UFC history. St-Pierre has fought in the welterweight and middleweight divisions. Every time the former fighter stepped into the Octagon, his attitude was technical and determined. St-Pierre always outperformed the competition when taking part in MMA. He was a man who focused on subtlety, who analyzed even the minute details that numerous fighters would neglect. Eventually, St-Pieree left MMA due to his obsessive-compulsive disorder.
5. Demian Maia
Demian Maia is a middle-weight 4th-degree black belt in BJJ and a crafty MMA fighter whose superior grappling skills have won him the UFC title. Out of his 28 notable wins in his UFC career, he has won three matches by knockout, 14 by submission, and 11 by decision. He has also achieved the MMA awards of Breakthrough Fighter of the Year in 2008, and Submission of the Year between 2019-2020. He's subdued 10 individuals in the UFC, making his BJJ abilities so feared to the point that his opponents frequently try to avoid going on the ground with him.
6. BJ Penn
BJ Penn’s first championship was actually against Matt Hughes during his first championship reign. Penn came out as the underdog, earning more points that Hughes, much to the surprise of the audience.
Penn was an ace when it came to grappling his opponent. Penn is able to take down his opponent where he wants and control them from the back. From the back, he dominates his opponent with his rear-naked choke. Penn was an extremely powerful striker and an exceptionally interesting BJJ contender.
Penn was a 5th-degree BJJ black belt. He fought in the UFC lightweight and welterweight divisions. His MMA record shows 16 wins, 14 loses, and two draws. He had a few losing bids in his career because he was competing with opponents far out of his weight range, but soon managed to beat his rivals and former champions. Penn’s improvement in BJJ skills was nothing short of spectacular.
7. Rodolfo Vieira
Rodolfo Vieira is is a four-time BJJ world champion. His fighting style includes impressive guard passing skills. He possesses great cardio and physical prowess during his bright MMA career. Vierira entered the world of MMA in 2017 and went on to have an impressive career. He won Performance of the Night in the UFC championship against Dustin Stoltzfus. His MMA record is eight wins and two losses. His win breakdown shows that seven were by submission and one was by knockout.
8. Charles Oliveira
Charles Oliveria is an impressive jiu-jitsu fighter who puts on quite a show with his enchanting moves. Trained under Jorge Patino, he has not only won a UFC lightweight championship, but also holds the records of best submission martial artist and securing the most finishes in UFC history. Oliveira’s MMA record shows 33 wins, 19 of them won by submission. No other fighter in UFC history has an impressive variety of various submission techniques like Oliviera.
9. Tony Ferguson
Tony Ferguson is a former UFC fighter who was known for his aggressive and unusual fighting style. He is a BJJ black belt with elite grappling and striking skills he used well during his career. Ferguson fought in the lightweight division, won the interim lightweight championship, and won the Ultimate Fighter 13. His MMA record includes 25 wins, eight by submission, and six losses.
10. Anderson Silva
Anderson Silva holds several distinct achievements, including the longest reigning title of 2457 days, earning the Fight of the Year award, and tying for most finishes in UFC history with Donald Cerrone and Vitor Belfort. He received BJJ training from Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Silva has won against some of the best fighters in the world like Carlos Newton, Jeremy Horn, Lee Murray, Chris Leben, Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, Patrick Cote, Force Griffon, Demian Maia, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Okami, and Stephan Bonnar. Silva’s jiu-jitsu skills and striking techniques prove he is one of the best fighters ever. His MMA record holds 34 wins and 10 losses throughout his career.
11. Mackenzie Dern
Mackenzie Dern is one of the most prestigious female BJJ fighters in the UFC. She is a BJJ black who trained under Wellington Dias. She entered the MMA world in 2016 at the UFC strawweight division. She is an exceptional female fighter able to show off her high-level jiu-jitsu skills. Despite the fact that she is new to the MMA, she is now one of the most well-known female BJJ specialists in the UFC. Her MMA records is 10 wins, five of them won by submission.
12. Brian Ortega
Brian Ortega is a BJJ black belt who is well-known for his grappling abilities. The UFC fighter began his BJJ career when he was 13 years old and entered the world of MMA at the age of 17. He has utilized his grappling abilities to win a few matches in the UFC. In his latest win, Ortega crushed Cub Swanson via submission with a guillotine choke. His best grappling skills make him out as one of the best fighters in the history of the UFC. Ortega has beaten some of the best fighters on the planet and will hopefully continue to do so. His MMA record is 15 wins, two losses, and one no contest. Brian Ortega fights in the featherweight division.
13. Nick Diaz
As mentioned earlier, Nick Diaz is the famous strikeforce welter champion, brother of Nate Diaz, and is famous for his strong BJJ skills. The former MMA fighter is a BJJ black belt. He has fought in the lightweight, welterweight, and middleweight divisions and has secured many victories. Nick currently runs a jiu-jitsu academy with his brother. His MMA record is 26 wins, 10 losses, and two no contests. Nick Diaz is a man confident in his state-of-the-art BJJ skills to win against any opponent.
14. Shinya Aoki
Shinya Aoki is one of the most outstanding BJJ fighters to have fought in the Octagon. In his thirty years of fighting, Aoki has achieved some unimaginable submission wins. Aoki is a black belt in both BJJ and judo and was trained by Yuki Nakao. Due to his many submission wins, he has been given the name of Tobikan Juda or Master of Flying Submissions. Aoki’s fighting style mainly depends on BJJ as he first tries to take down his opponent and subdue him/her with his amazing omoplata and heel hook techniques. Aoki currently has 30 submission wins and hopes to add to his record in the future. He was awarded the Grappler of the Decade award in 2000.
15. Ronaldo Souza
Like Demian Maia, Ronaldo Souza is one of the most accomplished BJJ fighter in UFC history. His amazing grappling skills gave him the name “Jacare” due to grip being like an alligator’s. Just like Maia, many fighters also refuse to compete with him just because of his incredible grappling skills. Souza is considered the second-best grappler in UFC history. His MMA record is 26 wins, three of them were by submission, and eight losses. Souza has won three UFC championships against Chris Weidman, Robbie Lawler, and Vitor Belfort. He has also won at the ADCC Submission Wrestling Competition, the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, and the CBJJ Championships.
16. Fabricio Werdum
Fabricio Werdum is another former UFC champion famous for his elite grappling and boxing skills. He is a 2nd-degree BJJ black belt and trained under Octavio Couto. He is famous for his striking skills, able to take down his opponents with a few hits and then subdue them with his grappling skills. During his MMA career, Werdum has beaten numerous MMA legends like Antonio Nogueira and Cain Valasquez. However, his most notable victory was defeating Fedor Emelianenko at Strikeforce in 2010. Werdum fought in the heavyweight division in the UFC. His MMA record is 23 wins, eight losses, and one draw. Out of his 23 wins, 11 were by submission, which was rare to see in the heavyweight division.