Best BJJ Competitors To Keep An Eye On In 2020

People that train Jiu-Jitsu like to watch others grapple. Unlike other sports, you get to learn a lot just from watching people fight. Moreover, with the rise of the professional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu scene, we get to see people who are extremely dedicated demonstrate their craft. That said, another hugely unique aspect of BJJ is that, if you persevere and compete a lot, you’re almost guaranteed to meet your idols as your opponents. That’s something not many sports can offer. For most of us,m achieving this is not realistic, fro a myriad of reasons. However, for the next generation of the best BJJ competitors out there, this is a fact of life. So much so, in fact, that they often end up victorious.

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The best part about the BJJ competition scene is that it never stops evolving. As more and more people take up Jiu-Jitsu, more and more competitors flood the mats. Not all of them are going to make it to the big stages, but some seem determined to do so from the get-go. Whether they are children of some of the big-name stars of grappling, or just crazy talents that have gotten together with even grater coaches, the best BJJ competitors of the future are coming strong. While it is hard to see them at work, certain tournaments do give us the chance of a sneak-peek into BJJ’s future. And it has never been brighter, from the looks of it!

Best BJJ Competitors Are Not All Black Belts

In the past, a lower belt submitting, or beating a black belt in a tournament was almost inconceivable. It did happen here and there, but outside of the ADCC people didn’t really get a chance to test themselves against black belts in competition. Even nowadays, the experience of black belts is oftentimes the deciding factor. However, as of late, we are seeing more and more colored belts coming off with amazing victories against legends of the sports. Moreover, it is not just the belt but also age that is not really a factor anymore.

At the moment, the boundaries in the sport that were set by belts or the age of competitors are completely blurred. The latest edition of the ADCC was the latest testament to this. WE saw some great young grapplers beat much older and higher-ranked ones. We also so blue belts that destroyed black belts, sending them flying through the air. As such, we have a new generation of up and comers in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and they’re scary, to say the very least. And this is a positive thing when it comes to the sport’s development.

Don’t get me wrong, I take nothing form black belts. They’re still at the very top and are the core of the competitive BJJ scene. However, let’s be brutally honest here – lower belts beating black belts is no longer a fluke. Victories nowadays are as legitimate as possible and the best BJJ competitors of tomorrow are some seriously skilled grapplers. The best part about it is that w do not have to wait until they reach back the belt level to enjoy their performances. We’ve seen many prospects “blow out” until they reach a black belt and turn into flops. Somehow, I think that this approach is going to build much better grapplers that are only going to get better. Time will tell.

The 2019 Best Up-And-Comers Of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Where exactly do we start with the best BJJ competitors among the up-and-comers? I have an idea, and it involves my personal preference or better-said fascination. I’m going to refer a lot to the ADCC, although there are other ultra high-level tournaments, ranging from the Mundials to submission-only events that have provided a great insight into what the future of BJJ looks like. WE did get a lot of surprises sat the ADCC, but that’s only because all eyes were on that tournament.

Keep in mind that there are other grappling organizations, Gi and No-GI as well as MMA promotions where people shine. MMA fighters often go for pro grappling events nowadays to get another payday, so high level grappling from there is spilling out into the grappling only scene. Once again, this is all for the better. Let’s look at some of the Best BJJ Competitors that are going to light up the grappling world.

  • Nicky Rodriguez

If you think Gordon Ryan is scary, wait till Nicky gets his black belt.  He is first on the list simply because his performances amazed me the most. And it wasn’t just at the ADCC. In fact, it was the ADCC trials where he first caught my attention, winning the West Coast Trials with apparent ease. However, that wasn’t what really stood out. At that moment, Rodriguez had less than a year of BJJ training under his belt, which was white at the time. That, however, is not the full extent of his grappling experience.

Although he might just be a purple belt in BJJ at the time, Rodriguez is a highly accomplished wrestler, both at high school and collegiate level. Moreover, he trains in the blue basement with Danaher and the squad full time. As far as grappling pedigrees go, it doesn’t get much better than that. At the ADCC, Rodriguez got silver, losing only in the finals to Duarte. Along the way, he beat people like Orlando Sanchez, Mahamad Aly, and Roberto Cyborg. Nicky got his purple belt after his ADCC accolades, is currently 23 years old and he is only getting started.

  • Tye Ruotolo (and Kade Ruotolo)

Tye Ruotolo is another name that we kind of knew before the ADCC, but weren’t sure about. Granted, at the age of only 16 and a rank of blue belt, nobody really expected much out of him. apart forme being the youngest ever competitor at the ADCC he was also ono f the lightest in weight. Although he is the one that got a shot at the ADCC, his twin brother Kade is no less impressive. Both train at the highly acknowledged grappling champion factory that its Galvao’s Atos Academy. He almost got bronze in the ADCC, which only evaded him as a result of Miyao’s freakishly submission resistant legs. And yeah, he lost with the smallest of margins to the experience of Miyao in the bronze medal match, even though he had one of the deepest kneebars ever that only probably Miyao could resist.

Just as a teaser, after the ADCC the met up with Vagner Rocha at Fight 2 WI. He emerged as the victor. Definitely one of the Best BJJ competitors of today.

  • Kennedy Maciel

The sone of the legendary Rubens Charles “Cobrinha”, Maciel is actually a black belt, although a “fresh” one at that. Still, he is young and he is certainly an up-and-comer. The legacy of Cobrinha as one of the all-time best BJJ competitors is not an easy one to follow, but Maciel is certainly making all the right moves. At The ADCC, Maciel got silver, at his debut on that particular grappling stage. That’s something not many people can claim.

Moreover, he did not come looking for his first-ever world-class accomplishment. Probably the most decorated in our best BJ Competitors of tomorrow list, Maciel ahs a No-Gi world title, an American Nationals title, and ACBJJ world Title. All of them at a black belt. As a purple and brown belt, he won pretty much everything there is. And, at the age of just 22 and with Cobrinha in his corner, he is certainly one to make waves!

  • Nicky Ryan

There’s really not much to say about Nicky Ryan that you do not know already. However, this list would be incomplete without him, given that he is “only” a brown belt. The younger brother of Gordon Ryan, Nicky is probably the Danaher’ Death Squad’s scariest member. So far he has beaten the who is who of BJJ, from Geo Martinez to the legendary Masakazu Imanari. At 18 years of Age, Nicky still has to mature as a grappler, and it is scary to think what he’ll morph into given how much he has accomplished so far. He didn’t get a spot on the podium in his second try at the ADCC, but somehow, I have a feeling he’ll beat even Gordon’s performances in years to come.

  • Larissa Paes

Larissa is a BJJ black belt under Paulo Avolio representing the Gordo Jiu-Jitsu Association. At the age of 23, she is one of the top female black belt prospects in the world. A black belt since 2018. She still has a lot to accomplish at the t level. However, if her performances so far are anything to judge by, expectations are right to be very high. As a purple and brown belt, she won pretty much everything and is willing to take on any opponent. An armbar aficionado, Larissa is hands down one of the best BJJ competitors of our time, particularly when it comes to grappling with the Gi. Moreover, she comes from a BJJ family, with both her parents back belt school owners.

  • Michael  Galvao

Here’s one that’s really, really young, and really, really talented! The 16-year old son of Melqui Galvao has not lost a match in over two years now. In that time, he has won 106 matches 103 of them by submission! As a juvenile, he has the highest possible rank of a blue belt at the moment. Even though he is able to go toe to toe with any adult, he still has to wait for his chance. In the meantime, he has achieved the IBJJF double grand slam (winning weight and absolute at the Pans, Worlds, Euros and Brasilian Nationals).

Moreover, he has only lost six points in 33 matches in the IBJJF this year, winning all but 2 of the matches via submission. The reason we didn’t see him at the ADCC was down to south American ADCC trials age limitations. A shame if you ask me, but I’m certainly looking forward to the 2021 edition of the event!

  • Haisam Rida

Representing the mysterious Carpe Diem team from Toky, Haisam is a black belt under Yuki Ishikawa he is one of the best BJJ competitors of today, just making his way to the big scene. At the age of 25, the Ghanaian has everything going for him so far. He won the 2015 Sao Paolo IBJJF open at heavyweight as a purple belt, which put him on the map. From there on he won lots, ranging from UAEJJF Grand Slams to the All-Japan Open tournament. Most notably, though, Haisam performed perfectly at Quintet. Representing Haleo Dream Team, he submitted three people in a row, eliminating Tema Tiger Muay Thai. although he still has stuff to polish out he is certainly one of the best BJJ competitors of the next generation. Keep your eyes open for this one!

  • Mayassa Bastos

Mayassa Bastos is a name you might know, and you should! A Julio Caesar Pereira black belt, Mayassa is A GFTeam representative and has one of the richest competitive pedigrees for someone with just over a year’s experience s a black belt. At 22 years of age, the Brazilian has titles at the Worlds, Pans Brazilian Nationals, Euros, Abu Dhabi Pro and a bunch of others. Moreover, she wins both Gi and No-Gi titles with ease and also has the strawweight EBI title to boast.  Her nickname “Pequena Notável” translates to “Remarkable Little One” which says it all, really. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing any of her matches in the future.

  • Bryce Mitchell

Bryce Michell just two days ago puled only the second ever Twister submission in the UFC. Apart from that, he is an amazing submission grappler, that, miraculously enough, has no official BJJ background. At least none that I could dig up online. Feel free to correct me in terms of his BJJ rank, but his ground game is most definitely versatile, to say the least. He has unstoppable takedowns, crazy amounts of pressure and has 9 submissions in MMA to his name so far. And that includes a Twister submission victory over Matt Styles, The most impressive thing about “Thug Nasty” is that he claimes to have learned the Twister on Youtube. If that’s true then we’re set for a lot more form the young prodigy, particularly in a grappling sense.

In Conclusion

Moreover, if blue belts are grappling like black belts now, how are they going to look when they actually reach the black belt level? That’s an answer I’m really looking forward to getting. In the years to come, we’ll certainly see the landscape of BJ Jchange over and over again. So far, what I know for sure is that the next crop of best BJ competitors is an exciting one to watch! Great times!

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