Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been a fundamental part of Mixed Martial Arts since the very first UFC event in 1993. In that event, Royce Gracie of the fabled Gracie family picked apart each opponent with his unique and unusual style of grappling. Since then, Bjj has become an essential part of MMA competitors as opposed to a secret weapon they can use on others. In the modern sport, many MMA fighters tend to focus on the core elements of Bjj as opposed to ground breaking new ways of attacking.
Best BJJ Fighters in the UFC
There are several fighters however who go from being the best competitive grapplers in the world to competing in MMA. Some of these fighters are so dominant because their basics are finely tuned. Other fighters are unique in their style of grappling allowing them a dominant attacking edge over their opponent. Below are some UFC athletes with the best jiu jitsu in the game.
Demian Maia is widely regarded as the best grappler in mixed martial arts. With a professional record of 28 wins, 14 of those wins have come from submissions. Notable finishes include Ben Askren (rear-naked choke) and Chael Sonnen (triangle choke). Maia even bested nordic grappling superstar Gunnar Nelson by decision in a matchup that was marketed as grappling porn. As far as Bjj tournaments go, Maia won the Copo del Mundo (BJJ World Cup) as a black belt in 2005. In 2006, he won the Pan-American championships and in 2007 he took first place at the ADCC, a title that many believe to be the pinnacle of submission grappling.
Maia is known for his impenetrable back mount. From here he piles on the pressure until his opponent can no longer defend. This pressure is clearly evident in almost all of his fights in the UFC.
Brian Ortega is a young prodigy in the 145 division of the UFC. Growing up, Ortega was surrounded by poverty and crime. At a young age, he began attending a Gracie Jiu Jitsu academy in California under Rorian Gracie. Soon after, Ortega became a prodigious talent in the academy. He ability and understanding combined with the thorough teachings of the Gracies enabled Ortega to excel in the sport. Of his 14 professional wins, 7 of them are submissions.
The majority of these have been chokes with Ortega’s own nickname being T-City alluding to his fondness of the triangle choke. Ortega has also showed some incredible striking too, knocking out veteran Frankie Edgar and Clay Guida. Although suffering a setback to Max Holloway, the defending champion at the time, Ortega looks set to live up to his profile and return to his Bjj background in the future.
For sure, Tony Ferguson has the most unusual grappling style on this list. In college, Ferguson was an NCWA All-American in 2006 and 2007. After graduating, Ferguson competed for a place in the UFC on The Ultimate Fighter and eventually won the tournament. Throughout his 25 professional wins, Ferguson has 8 wins by submission and 6 fight of the night performances to boot. Similar to Ortega, Ferguson’s stoppages have come in the form of triangle chokes and d’arce chokes.
Unlike Ortega, however, Ferguson’s tutelage in Bjj comes from a very un-traditional background in Eddie Bravo and the 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu style. 10th Planet is based around very unique means of control and submissions and this certainly suits Ferguson’s personal approach to fighting. Unlike many fighters in the UFC, Ferguson seems more than content to fight off his back. A look at his fight against Kevin Lee shows his landing significant blows whilst in full guard and the triangle position. In many ways, Ferguson seems to take elements of all his training and combine them into a sort of freestyle fighting that is unpredictable but very effective.
Do you think we’ve forgotten anybody on this list? Let us know in the comments below your Best BJJ Fighters in the UFC. Go check out our previous article on Underrated Bjj in the UFC!