It would be next to impossible to figure out the greatest Jiu-Jitsu match of all time. People have their own favorites and opinions and coming to a consensus would be hard. So far, there are several matches out there that are contenders to be the best ever. Some are older, and some come from the most recent BJJ history. All in all, we’ll take a look at these today, and we’ll share an idea about how we might come up with the best of the best at the end of the article. Enjoy!
With the present hiatus from actually doing BJJ excluded, there has been an exponential increase in BJJ matches in the past decade. Form just your major tournaments (and a few local ones) ten years ago, to the entire professional Jiu-Jitsu scene and countless shows and tournaments nowadays, it has been amazing to witness the rise of BJJ. This rise also bought about some memorable battles between some of the colossuses of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. It also means there are too many matches to choose from, and finding the best Jiu-Jitsu match is going to be like hitting that amazingly impressive submission that you can probably get only once in a lifetime. Still, let’s check out a few contenders.
What Is Your Favorite Jiu-Jitsu Match?
Who is the GOAT of Jiu-Jitsu? We tried to answer that in an earlier article, which inevitably brought about the next question: What is the best Jiu-Jitsu match ever? It seems this one will be a bit harder to answer. Is it a Gi or No-Gi match? Will it be one of the male or female competitors? IS there a possibility of sharing the number one spot? And that is all before I even start to mention rule sets and other factors.
Generally speaking, people like highly technical, entertaining, and fast-paced matches. As it turns out, while favorable, submissions are not essential for a Jiu-Jitsu match to be entertaining. I’ll refrain from commenting on the different rule sets, as I tried to include matches from all kinds of competition formats among our contenders below. That said, I should probably make it lean that I lean more towards No-Gi matches than Gi ones.
That said, I have to admit that there have been quite interesting GI matches as well. So much so, in fact, that it can be really hard to pick a few to include among the contenders for the best JIu-Jitsu match ever, let alone pick the winner. Throwing in a few wrenches in the form of modern sub-only tournaments just makes the entire process even more difficult. But it also makes it fun, as I got to watch some of the most entertaining matches in BJJ history while doing this article. Check them out for yourself!
Best BJJ Match Ever Contenders
Of course, not everyone will be content with the choice I made here. That’s perfectly ok and was expected. However, there’s no denying that the matches below are some of the best ever in the history of our young sport. Moreover, even though they’re not organized by year, you can still see when each of them takes place. This really puts into perspective the evolution of the sport in just a decade, from every possible standpoint.
Plus, featuring superstars the likes of Marcelo Garcia, Roger Gracie, Garry Tonon, Mackenzie Dern, Keenan Cornelius, etc. only makes our quest for the best Jiu-Jitsu match ever more interesting. After all, who else would we feature?
SPOILER ALERT – In the off chance you haven’t seen any of the matches below, not that the results are included, so you might want to watch the match first.
Lucas Lepri vs Renan Marcel (2019)
First up is a match that lit up the 2019 IBJJF Europeans. It is also one of the last top matches we saw before the world went into lockdown. In the finals of the absolute division, double runner up Lucas Lepri faced Renan Marcel who outweighed him by nearly 100lbs. The fact that Lepri ended up winning this match makes it even better. After some relentless guard passing pressure (Marcel pulled guard), Lepri ended up on the back and choked his opponent out after only 4 minutes.
Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida vs. Rodolfo Vieira (2012)
The names of these two giants of BJJ (both literally and figuratively) are enough to guarantee fireworks. This was a highly anticipated Jiu-Jitsu match that definitely did not fail to entertain. Back in 2012 when Buchecha was on a meteoric rise, he met pressure machine Rodolfo Vieira who was probably the scariest grappler of that period (still scary nowadays).
The match took place at the 2012 Worlds in the Absolute division and saw Buchecha walk away victorious on points. After a jump guard, Buchecha managed to sweep Rodolfo quickly, and tried to pass his guard for half of the match. Rodolfo managed to get one sweep back at the halfway point, and even passed to side control to turn the tables. Bunchecha had none of it, using a very tight kneebar attack to end up back on top, however briefly. Rodolfo used a kneebar of his own to get back on top before the two scrambled to their feet.
Another guard pull by Buchecha and some crazy transitional magic got him yet another sweep, followed by one of his trademark power double leg takedowns to seal the points advantage. In the last minute of the match, Rodolfo did slap on a very tight armbar from the bottom that Buchecha miraculously escaped, earning the victory and the absolute title.
Kron Gracie Vs Marcelo Garcia (2009)
Kron Graci, Marcelo Garcia, ADCC. These are all the ingredients you need for the most explosive and entertaining Jiu-Jitsu match of all times. This one took place at the 2009 ADCC, in the -77 kg division.
Marcelo, at the height of his prime, pulled guard against a very aggressive Kron Gracie. The 5-minute long exchange that followed included some of the most explosive sweeps and pass attempts ever, by both grapplers, respectively. Marcelo ended up on top, however briefly, halfway in the match, before they kept going like before. A Guillotine attempt by Korn helped Marcelo get on top and establish side control after 6 minutes in.
Marcelo’s own guillotine attempt got him in Kron’s full guard, eventually providing Gracie with a way to get back up to the feet. Marcelo pulled off a single leg takedown and managed to get past Kron’s guard on a second occasion, with both attempting more Guillotines in the process.
Kron tried standing back take late in the Jiu-Jitsu match taking it into overtime. Marcelo got a crucial takedown early and proceeded to pass Kron’s full guard, via half guard (and a scramble), straight into mount. His Mounted Guillotine proved too much for Kron who tapped, sending Marcelo to the semifinals.
Ffion Davies vs Natahlie Ribeiro (2019)
At the 2019 Worlds, intense pressure passer Davies met up an open guard expert in Riberio that was to be a real challenge. The featherweight quarter-final saw Ffion get past Riberio, staging the best comeback of the tournament.
Nathalie pulled guard immediately, which Ffion welcomed. Her passes were soon met with a triangle attempt by Ribeiro. It seemed tight, and Ffion got away by the skin of her teeth, executing a sitting back triangle defense after 5 minutes inside the submission attempt. Quickly passing the guard afterward, Ffion detonated her trademark aggressiveness in taking the back and choking Nathalie out less than a minute after she escaped the triangle choke attempt. A Jiu-Jitsu match to remember, for sure.
Nicolas Meregali vs Felipe Andrew (2019)
Meregali and Andrew definitely provided the BJJ world with a Jiu-Jitsu match for the history books. By many, it is the match of the year (2019) although ADCC fans would argue that. There’s no arguing that the match had everything, from submission attempts to high-speed takedowns and scrambles. The match was the heavyweight final at the Brazilian Nationals in 2019 a competition that houses the who-is-who of Jiu-Jitsu.
Andrews opened with a takedown, forcing Meregali to play guard, which he gladly did in a very aggressive fashion. He quickly got up to the feet, holding on for a single leg, which Andrews amazingly turned into a second takedown for himself. More open guard action saw Meregali threaten with an Omoplata that provided him a much-needed sweep that led to yet another nutty scramble with back attack attempts by both grapplers.
After having to restart, Meregali pulled guard, going for an aggressive De La Riva which yielded him a route to the back, albeit via a standing rear body lock. In the spirit of this Jiu-Jitsu match, the two yet again rolled off the mats.
Another guard pull finally allowed Meregali to establish a top position, which he then used to pass and get a very tight collar choke while Andrews was in the turtle.
Roger Gracie Vs Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (2004)
There’s nothing much really that is left to say about this particular Jiu-Jitsu match. It had all the ingredients of a legendary battle and still remains one, more than 15 years later. In the finals of the 2004 Mundials, the pair made sure their names got etched in BJJ history forever.
The epic match saw Roger pull guard and attack Jacare form the closed guard for a good while. Jacare would have none of it, slipping an armbar attempt to pass the guard and force Gracie into turtling up. Eventually, Jacare clawed his way to Roger’s back, establishing both hooks. Roger, however, managed to recover guard, using the 50/50 to get back up to his feet, where Jacare followed.
Another guard pull and some action from Roger’s closed guard led to one of the most iconic moments of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu history. Namely, Roger went for another armbar attempt, this time getting everything right, and famously broke Jacare’s arm in the process. Refusing to tap, Souza went on to evade Roger’s takedown attempts and another guard pull, all the while hiding his arm to get one of the most legendary wins in BJJ.
Leandro Lo vs. Keenan Cornelius (2015)
In 2015, in the finals of the Mundials, two giants of the game crossed paths in one of the most exciting BJJ matches ever. Keenan Cornelius used this Jiu-Jitsu match to present to the world his now recognizable Worm guard, which caused all sorts of trouble for Leandro.
A double guard pull marked the start of the match, with Keenan enduing up on top. After a couple of minutes, Leandro got the upper hand finishing a sweep. This brought Keenan to the bottom where he initially wanted to be. As expected, Keenan went for a lapel, and after several moments, set up the Worm guard for the first time ever. After a while in the guard, Keenan managed to get a sweep ending back on top and level on points. However, Leandro’s collar drag proved to be extremely effective yet again, with two more points going to the Brazilian.
Another sweep by Keenan, and yet another stalemate. After 8 minutes, though, Kennan decides he had enough of the top game and tried a flying triangle that eventually turned into a belly-down armbar. Lo used the commotion to get on top, escaping the submission attempts in the process, only for Keenan to get yet another sweep. Lo had the last sweep of the day, earning 2 points to edge Keena in an epic battle.
AJ Agazarm vs Dan Strauss (2015)
In a submission-only Polaris match, Gracie Barra’s AJ Agazarm squared against Daniel Strauss From Roger Gracie’s Academy. In one of the most entraining grudge matches of recent times (it took place in 2015), we saw only a draw, due to the sub-only rule set Polaris employed.
There were, however, some crazy exchanges in this Jiu-Jitsu match. The pace was off the charts. With both men constantly hitting explosive takedowns and going for submission attempts. As notorious a Straus’ guillotine choke is, it turned out that AJ’s resistance to submissions was better. With a lot of slaps, and the legendary moment where Strauss took AJ’s mouthpiece and threw it in the audience, the fight ended in a draw, but was full of submission attempts on both sides.
Andre Galvao vs. Rousimar Palhares (2011)
Two giants in an ADCC Jiu-Jitsu match to remember. Andre Galvao is practically ADCC royalty, while Palhares is arguable the scariest grappler to ever fight in either BJJ or MMA. In 2011, the pair met in the -99kg finals.
After a significant time grip fighting from the feet, Palhares got the first takedown, albeit in a period when no points were awarded. It didn’t take long for him to try and hit a heel hook, which Galvao defended expertly. Palhares kept attacking the legs until Galvao slithered away forcing him to stand to his feet. After 7 minutes Galvao hit a successful sweep ending up on top and eventually getting the back. Palhares managed to get out though, after a few attempts, and both men stood back up.
One more significant takedown by Palhares and yet another sweep by Galvao saw the match end 5 points in the favor of Andre Galvao.
Mackenzie Dern vs. Gabi Garcia (2015)
In a legendary feat of triumph, Dern finally got one over giant rival Gabi Garcia in the absolute of the World Pro Abu Dhabi 2015. After losing to Gabi on several different occasions earlier (with a significant size difference in Garcia’s favor) Dern finally managed to get one over her opponent.
Mackenzie pulled guard immediately. Gabi put a lot of pressure, but Dern’s inverted guard proved effective at stopping her. After a while Dern got to the closed guard, forcing Garcia to stand. Gabi did almost pas the guard but was met with a sweep attempt by Dern that she missed out on by inches. They even stood up for a little while but ended up back on the ground with no points for each.
After yet another exchange of closed guard and pass attempts the match ended in a draw. Only it didn’t. As it turns out, Garcia got a negative point early in the match, which eventually awarded Dern the victory. However, the match was so fast-paced and there were so many exchanges that nobody really took notice of the scoreboard until it was over.
Pick Your Own
When it comes to the best Jiu-Jitsu match ever, most of us have our own opinions. So, why not help us create the greatest database of the best possible Jiu-Jitsu matches ever? Sound off on your favorite match, so that we can collect them all and organize them year by year in than extensive and highly entertaining video database here on BJJ world. We’re waiting for your responses!