BJJ has been a part of the UFC and the MMA world since the beginning. For those of you familiar with UFC and not so much with MMA, Royce Gracie dominated the first UFC event and won all of his fights by submissions. With the continuing love and support that BJJ has experienced recently, including from celebrities who do BJJ, there are some very well known fighters who are transitioning from pure BJJ competitions to MMA.
The best of the best BJJ stars in MMA are focused (and do an insane job doing so), when it comes to submitting to their dangerous opponents. Let’s just say that these BJJ stars know how to end a fight.
Rising Popularity of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
We might as well call the rising popularity of BJJ: the rise and rise. The BJJ has the fitness community, self-defense world, and combat arts arena in its stranglehold. FightZone’s James Roach says that, “Jiu-Jitsu is learning how to control a person” and those in MMA consider BJJ “indispensable”. BJJ has become one of the fastest growing fight arts because of its appeal to a wide audience (there is no age limit), incredible self-defense tool, it’s fun and a confidence booster, and an intensively strong sense of community.
Best BJJ Stars of MMA
While BJJ has been steadily gaining traction over the last decade, so have the BJJ stars within MMA. There is something about the way that those with BJJ roots glide fluidly across the mats with intention.
There is no questioning Shinya Aoki’s career with over 50 fights. He is the former DREAM Lightweight Champion and two-time former ONE Lightweight World Champion. Aoki is known for his striking style and gaining control of the opponent’s limbs. Currently 37 years old and as strong and dangerous as ever.
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Take a look at some of Aoki’s dominations.
Son of the legendary Rickson Gracie, Kron is no new news to the BJJ/MMA world. Kron was awarded his black belt at the age of 19 and recently transitioned fully into MMA. He has collected some of the most prestigious BJJ medals and takes that with him to the mats every time. Kron has long been associated with Nick and Nate Diaz (show some TBC love). Gracie has always helped the brothers with their grappling game.
Gracie joined the UFC in 2019 and we all can’t wait to see what he does next.
THE GREATEST ADCC MATCH OF ALL TIME: KRON GRACIE VS. GARY TONON
After a two decade long career, Maia still shows no signs of stopping any time soon. The former two-time UFC title challenger has had a lengthy run with 28 victories with 14 of those by submission. It would be an understatement to call Maia a BJJ leader in modern-day MMA. Demian is all about using the ‘gentle art’ and pairing it appropriately with proper striking prowess and wrestling.
He’s had some big wins over Jorge Masdival, Carlos Condit, and Ben Askren. Maia is definitely going down as one of the greatest grapplers in MMA history.
Gary “The Lion Killer” Tonon is relatively new to the cage. However, he has had a massive following of his submission grappling for years. While he is up and coming, Tonon currently sits at 5-0, with two victories by knockout. The MMA community can’t wait to see what he does next.
Best known as “The Wizard”, Ryan Hall is one of the best and most accomplished BJJ fighters in modern day history. It is rare to see a fighter so beautifully adapt BJJ skills to MMA that brings an unprecedented skill of technical ability to the cage.
Hall is currently 8-1, with three wins by submission. You can tell that Hall has no fear of being taken down and
Dern may be new to the UFC community, but she is a seasoned veteran of the BJJ world. Currently ranked 6th best female in BJJ by the IBJJF. There is no question that she is a bad-ass at home as a mother and in the cage. With loads of talent and hard work, Dern earned her black belt before the age of 20.
Dern is at 9-1 and known for her beautiful grappling style.
Diaz is known for a thing or a two, one of which is choking Conor McGregor in their epic back and forth fight. Diaz has won with 9 submissions in the UFC, while showing off his beautiful skills in BJJ. Nate also combines his skills in boxing along with BJJ.
In 2017, Joe Rogan claimed that Nate is “the most underutilized fighter in the UFC”.
There is no quit with Nick Diaz. He is easily known as one of the toughest fighters in UFC. His background and training with Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu as well as his long reach makes him ready for any opponent.
Talk about the ultimate BJJ star turned one of the best MMA fighters.
We’ll just let these highlights speak for themselves.
It’s a combined effort of hard work, style, and BJJ. From the versatility of Nate Diaz, to the raw talent of Mackenzie Dern, and the insane striking from Aoki, there’s no stopping the ‘gentle art’ in MMA. Now, you won’t be able to look away from it.
About The Author
The Boxing Club is more than just boxing. We’re a state of the art facility with combat arts based fitness and community. We have immense pride in having the best fighters and coaches in the industry – from Boxing, Muay Thai, BJJ, MMA, HIIT, Strength Training, Spin, Pilates, Yoga and more. We are founded on combat arts being the core of what we do but not all that we do.
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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