Five Legendary Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Competitors.
The surname Gracie could easily appear five times on this list. For that reason, we are mixing it up a bit to include other masters of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This list is strictly about the competitors, legends of a stand-alone combat sport that has changed the world and brought discipline to a wider audience.
From the early days of mixed martial arts to the formative years of the Ultimate Fighting Champions, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu would not have received recognition without certain champions. These five fighters took it to the mat in a way that revealed the effectiveness and grace of BJJ:
One can get lost in researching the Gracie family tree. Royce Gracie singlehandedly put the UFC on the map with his legendary displays. A generation later, Roger Gracie would win the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship fourteen times, ten in the black belt division alone. His achievements have made him an icon of BJJ, widely considered the greatest in the history of the sport.
Gracie was the first man to win three gold medals at the open weight division. He was the first grappler to finish all eight of his opponents in the ADCC tournament, both weight and absolute. His career has secured his place in a sacred lineage.
Marcus “Bucecha” Almeida is one of the greatest grapplers of all time. His nickname, which means ‘big cheeks’, was given to him, along with his black belt, by Rodrigo Cavaca. He has won five IBJJF World Championship open weight titles, which smashed the record once held by Roger Gracie himself.
Saulo Ribeiro received his black belt at age 19, from Royler Gracie. Ribeiro holds the record for the most world titles in different weight classes. Saulo is one of the most prolific competitors in the history of BJJ, with two ADCC championships under his belt.
Alexandre Ribeiro studied under his younger brother Saulo, as well as Royler Gracie and Vini Aieta. Also known as “Xande”, Alexandre has won multiple IBJJF World and ADCC championships. “Xande” has only ever had his guard passed twice in his entire career. The guard allows a smaller opponent to control and defeat a bigger attacker. Ribeiro is regarded as a super-legend.
Romulo Barral is another legend with a nickname: “Rominho”. Barral was only fifteen years old when he joined the Gracie Barra academy. He would go on to win by submission a total of 60 times in his 103 fights. Other legends, such as Dan Henderson, King Mo Lawal, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, and more have been taught by this five-time world champion.