FC 1 and Royce is dominating everyone with a plain old white Gi and moves nobody has ever seen before. The talk spreads like wildfire and the next few events get even more attention. As expected, the competition also increases but Royce does it again, and again and again. Reading most fighters’ biographies today, you’ll get at least a third of them, if not more, that’ll state Royce Gracie as the reason they took up BJJ, MMA or any other martial art. Jiu-Jitsu is deep in the roots of MMA and is an integral art that’s always going to be key to the success of any fighter. However, some people manage to use grappling as an advantage. So much so, in fact, that it seems like they’re out of this planet when they’re in the Octagon. Speaking of that, who has the best BJJ in UFC nowadays?
There is definitely a resurgence of high-level Jiu-Jitsu in MMA these days. The game keeps evolving and changing, and at this point in time, it is in a phase that’s perfect for MMA. We are the witnesses of the second coming of BJJ In UFC. Some of the greatest names in grappling are already on the roster of the leading MMA promotion. Not to mention all the others fighting in different organizations, like Gary Tonon and Bellator champ Raphael Lovato. Certainly, a future to look forward to, as far as grappling in MMA is concerned.
Back to Roots
While some might argue that the resurgence of BJJ fighters getting UFC contracts is a throwback to the past, this could not be further from the truth. The Jiu-JItsu of today and the one that Royce used could not be more different. The reason BJJ is still providing fighters with a huge edge over opponents proves just how much the art has evolved. In fact, I will be so bold to claim that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the only are art you can’t do without if you’re an MMA fighter.
Currently, BJJ in UFC is at it’s strongest since the early days of the promotion. You can find high-level BJJ names from different generations all across the divisions. What’s even more impressive is that there are both male and female champions and contenders that owe a lot of their success to the Gentle Art. Today’s roster, though, is nothing like what we’ve seen before. Don’t get me wrong, there were always a few people hat were great at BJJ, but at a certain point in time, even they had to turn lots of their attention to striking.
Well, it is now a different time as MMA is going back to its grappling roots. We’ve seen some crazy good grappling performances in the Octagon as of late and more are sure to come. I mean, just take a look at some of the names on the UFC roster! This begs the question, which one of the fighters currently on the list boasts the right to claim they’re the greatest grappler in the UFC? We’ll take a look at who they are, and you decide who the best is!
The Fighters With The Best BJJ In UFC
What are the criteria we use to evaluate who has the best BJJ in UFC? Well, there are certain aspects that we need to take into account. Submission finishes, of course, rank very highly on the list. However, mat control, distance control, both offensive and defensive grappling also matters a lot. Moreover, even the background of certain fighters has to take into account, since come of theme hasn’t gotten to showcase all their grappling talent yet.
Of course, a list of the best BJJ in UFC is going to start with one of the longest-serving fighters on the roster. He has been in the UFC since 2007 and has been fighting in MMA since 2001. So far, Maia has a record of 27-9 which is incredibly impressive. Moreover, he has won 13 of his fights via submission. Another hugely important stat is that Maia was for the longest time the UFC fighter that received less damage than anyone else on the roster! This is all down to how deadly efficient his BJJ is. Even though he is a part of the old generation, he is still a very formidable opponent and definitely one of the best grapplers in the world today. IS he still the best in the UFC though?
Now Brian is a real example of the new breed of MMA fighters that are extremely slick in modern JIu-Jitsu. ‘T-City” is known for his deadly submission skills, particularly off hf his back. In fact, “T-city” stands for “triangle city”, as he’s used this BJJ move to finish a bunch of his fights in the Octagon. Currently, with a record 14-1 (7 submissions), the featherweight is definitely on the rise. He is a Rener Gracie black belt and still trains regularly with the Gracies on a daily basis. HE is coming off his single loss from a championship bout against Max Holloway, but we’ll certain he’ll bounce right back up and provide another amazing grappling performance next time out.
Yeah, I bet you’ve forgotten all about her, didn’t you? Well, let me remind you that Dern is also on the UFC roster. One of the best ever female grapplers and certainly amongst those with eth best BJJ in UFC, Dern is fairly new to MMA. However, so far we’ve seen her submit 4 of her 7 opponents as she remains undefeated. Granted, most of those subs came outside the UFC, but who can forget her Imanari chocolate at Legacy? In the UFC, she has only one submission victory so far, along with a decision win. She is certain to keep the winning streak going, but we’ll have to be patient as she just had her first kid and will be away from the Octagon for a while at least.
Now, Ryan is an enigmatic character, if ever there was one. The Felipe Costa is a true example of the modern BJJ game. He is one of the original innovators in the leg locking department, particularly form the 50/50. He proved his skills to be effective at the highest level, recently submitting BJ Penn with one of his signature heel hooks. Currently, with a record of 8-1, Ryan has 3 submission wins and only one decision loss outside of the UFC. A similarity Hal land Maia share is that they both evolve from having the best BJJ in UFC to very deadly strikers. If his last outing is anything to judge by, Ryan is now just as much of a threat kicking, as he is on the mats.
Old school, legend, former champion… there are plenty of things you can say about Fabricio Werdum. He is already part of MMA history, as the first man to end Fedor’s streak back in Strikeforce. A very anticipated combat Jiu-Jitsu match between him and Ryan got scrubbed because of Ryan’s injury, leaving us wanting to see more of the Brazilian. The 4x World BJJ champion, European Jiu-JItsu champion and tow time ADCC heavyweight champion is certainly one of the best grapplers ever! With a record of 23-11 (11 submissions) Werdum ahs one of the highest submission rates in UFC history.
Werdum hasn’t fought for over a year now, since his loss to Alexander Volkov in 2018. Still, it will be some time until we see Werdum back in the Octagon. He is currently under suspension by USADA until 2020. His submission win over Fedore (triangle choke) remains one of the greatest submissions and upsets in MMA history!
Charles Oliviera is a UFC fighter who has a reputation of being extremely dangerous off his back. But that is not the full extent of his grappling knowledge. With a 27-8 record and 11 submission victories to his name, Oliveira also has 6 performance of the night bonuses in the UFC as well. This makes him one of the most entertaining MMA fighters that have ever stepped inside the octagon. AS scary and effective as Oliveira is, his claim to have the best BJJ in UFC might be scuppered by the fact that he has a wild fighting style. This often gets him in trouble, and he has been submitted on several occasions.
Nate Diaz is the one p[erosn out there that has the most underrated grappling game without a doubt! His attitude and overall behavior in and outside the octagon is so overwhelming that people forget how good he is on the ground. His elite-level boxing skills also do not allow his BJJ to really shine through on most occasions. When the time comes to grappler, though, Nate has one of the best BJJ games in the history of the UFC. Remember that rear-naked choke that handed McGregor his first-ever Octagon loss? AS a matter of fact, Diaz has 11 submission victories out of his 19 wins. The 2nd degree Cesar Gracie black belt still has a lot more entertainment to offer.
Relatively new, Formiga is in the same category as Nate, with people usually not paying attention to his ground game. Well, sleeping on the flyweight’s BJJ skills is a costly mistake, as proven 10 times so far, which is the number of his submission victories ins MMA. Holding an impressive 23-6 record, Formiga is a high-level BJJ and Judo black belt who particularly enjoys choking people out. Victories over Sergio Patis, Wilson Reis, and Scot Jorgensen just solidify the 33-year old’s pedigree. He is coming off his second loss to Joseph Benevidez though and is probably going to have to get back to the drawing board before he gets a shot at Henry Cejudo’s title. In terms of the Best BJJ in UC, though, Formiga is definitely among the top contenders!
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A recently promoted 10th Planet black belt, Ferguson is a real machine when it comes to grappling. Faithful to the Eddie Bravo strain of Jiu-JItsu he has an incredible bottom game, particularly when it comes to the rubber guard. He is, however, and extremely well-rounded fighter with amazing boxing skills and a solid wrestling base. AS far as fighting style goes (including grappling) Tony is by far one of the most creative fighters to ever fight in the UFC. His signature move is the D’arce choke, a submission he has pulled off plenty of times in the octagon. In fact, his record stands at 25-3, with 8 submission victories and 12 Kos. All that’s missing is for that elusive Khabib fight to actually take place.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza
Back at the 2004 Mundials, tow of the top BJJ prospect of the time, Roger Gracie and Ronaldo Souza met in the final of the open weight division. Roger got an extremely tight arm lock on Jacare but the Brazilian battled on. Ultimately he won the match and the World title. As it turned out, his arm was broken all along from that arm lock attempt. Soon after this legendary performance, Jacre switched his attention to MMA. Since 2006 he has amassed a 26-7 record with a total of 14 submission wins!.
As of 2013, he is on the UFC roster and making the chase of having the best BJJ in UFC history. So far, he has submission victories over the likes of Chris Camozzi, Gegard Mousasi, Tim Boetsch, and many others. The 8xWorld Champion and ADCC champ is still active, coming off a decision loss to Jack Hermnasson in April of this year. 4 Performance of the night, 2 fight of the night and one submission of the night are evidenced enough of how entertaining and dangerous Jacare is. One of my personal all-time favorites when it comes to grapplers in MMA.
Finally, a look at the future of BJJ in the UFC. Kron is the son of BJJ, Vale Tudo and MMA legend Rickson Gracie. A black belt since the age of 19, Kron has won pretty much everything there is in the grappling world. His transition into MMA came in 2014. Since then, he has the perfect professional record of 5 wins and no losses. Oh, and all of his wins in MMA came via submissions. The first few fights took place in Rizin, but his last one in February of 2019 was his UFC debut. In it, he got a rear-naked choke victory over Alex Caceras in the first round of the bout.
In fact, none of Kron’s MMA fights so far has progressed past the first round. While his UFC career is just beginning, it certainly looks very promising. WeE can’t wait to see the likes of him and Mack3enzie do what they do best in the octagon in the years to come.
To be honest, BJJ never really left MMA. Yea, striking and wrestling did take over the mantel of mandatory skills. However, but with the evolution of Jiu-Jitsu, the comeback is clearly in full effect. Just take a look at the who is who of grappling that are making real strides in MMA. One name we didn’t mention before and who definitely has a claim to make in terms of the best BJJ in UIFc is Rodolfo Vieira. He is another grappling standout who just signed for the promotion and is yet to have his first official fight. Who do you think is the fighter with the best grappling toolkit on the UFC roster at the moment?