Brazilian jiu-jitsu is one of the most competitive sports under the martial arts category. It involves a beautiful showcase of grappling skills, takedowns, and submission holds for one of the contestants on the mat to emerge victorious.
Like in any competitive activity, there are the best of the pack who come with an arsenal of skills topped with resiliency. In giving credit where due, we have come up with a list of some of the best BJJ athletes, covering all weight limits. Note that this list is in no hierarchical order.
In mixed martial arts, one of the ways of winning over your opponent is by making him or her submit. Among the best submission specialists in BJJ is Alexander Ribeiro, who boasts of a 4th degree black belt in jiu-jitsu and another in judo.
He is a two-time World Black Belt Absolute Jiu-jitsu Champion, a three-time World Black Belt Pro Division Champion and a five-time Black Belt Heavy Weight Champion. Alexander also has an impressive MMA record with two wins in his two appearances, one by knockout and the other by a technical knockout.
In the lightweight to the middleweight category, we have Marcelo Garcia, who critics suggest is the best pound to pound grappler. At 82kgs, he is a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt holder under Master Fabio Gurgel and is a member of Alliance Jiu-jitsu.
He has many accolades to his name, including the most technical fighter in 2003 and 2007, as well as the best fight award in 2005. He is also a great MMA fighter, though he lost in his one match against Koreas Kim Dae-Won, via a total knock out.
Marcio Feitosa is a top BJJ and MMA star, who started training in the former sport when he was only 12. By 15, he paid heed to an invitation to be an assistant to his instructor, Carlos Gracie Jr. At 19, he received his black belt, and a year later, he won the Pan American Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship and the BNJJ title. He has also won the Canadian Jiu-Jitsu in 1998. In his mixed martial arts career, he has a record of one draw and one loss in two matches.
Rubens ‘Cobrinha’ Charles gets the credit of being among the best featherweights to grace the wrestling arena. At 70kgs and standing at 5ft 3in, you may underrate him due to his small stature, but you are in for a surprise when it comes to the art of grappling.
Ruben started training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu in 2000 when he was around 20 years old. His achievements in the martial arts sport earned him a black belt in 2005 under Fernando Augusto, another accomplished mixed martial sports fighter.
He has had an excellent career, with his unique attacking style earning him six world championship titles. He was a member and an instructor for Alliance Jiu-jitsu, before setting up his school, Cobrinha BJJ in Los Angeles, California.
Representing the Checkmat team, we have Marcus Almeida, who is one of the best in the super to ultra-heavyweight divisions. Marcus has an impressive body build, and many consider him to be a monster at his imposing height of 1.91 meters and 110kgs.
He is good in takedowns, and despite his massive build, he is a master of escapes when it comes to holds. The result of his skill set is a black belt, under Rodrigo Cavaca, and 128 wins in 142 grappling matches. To top his recognition in jiu-jitsu, he has double gold winnings at the IBJJF World Championship.
In the female category, we have one of the most experienced wrestlers, Beatriz Mesquita. At 29 years old, she is inarguably the most decorated female BJJ athlete with multiple championships to her name. She is a nine-time World Champion, a seven-time Pan American Champion, a 4–time European Champion, and 3-times Brazilian National Champion.
She started training when she was five years old and earned her brown belt in 2009 under Leticia Ribeiro, her professor. In 2011 she got her black belt, still under Leticia’s watch.
Andre Galvao makes it to the list of the top ten BJJ competitors of all time, featuring in the welterweight division. He has been a member of Atos jiu-jitsu, since 2008, and has a 4th-degree black belt in this grappling sport and judo.
He is excellent in submissions, winning the 2011 ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship, the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship and the Pan American Championships. His MMA record is decent at five wins and two losses in seven matches.
You can’t create a list of the best female BJJ stars, mostly in the female category, without having Michelle Nicolini in it. She is both jiu-jitsu and a mixed martial art practitioner, with one of the best grappling records of all time.
As an eight-time world champion, she is only second to Beatriz Mesquita when it comes to the number of IBJJF World Championship reigns.
Rickson Gracie is one of the most celebrated jiu-jitsu artists and is considered a legend in the sport. What’s more, several of his children are also making their name in the wrestling mat. He is an inductee in the Legends of MMA Hall of Fame and has one of the best MMA records, registering all wins in all of his eleven appearances.
Lucas Lepri is one of the best grapplers to take on the jiu-jitsu arena. He takes the credit of being one of the few to win the four major championships at adult-level. Among the titles he has to his name include the World Jiu-Jitsu, the Pan American, the European and the Brazilian National Jiu-Jitsu Championships. He is also a black belt holder.
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is a very competitive sport, which requires participants to bring their wits and strength to emerge the victor. Above are some of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners of all time, who brought and continue to bring their best in the grappling art.