Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a sport with a pretty long history, so there's been a huge amount of fighters that have competed at a professional level since its inception more than 80 years ago (http://www.shenwu.com/bjjhistory.html). But which fighters left a legacy remembered to this day? We've compiled a list of some of the top Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters of all time - men whose achievements have left a lasting mark in the history of this amazing martial art.
It's next to impossible to arrive at a list that everyone will agree with, considering the huge amount of influential BJJ fighters. Because of the difficulty of ranking players based solely on wins, other factors were taken into account such as how the wins were achieved, technical skill, and how memorable their matches are looking back.
Any list of the top fighters is going to be subjective, but rest assured that all competitors on this list are some serious powerhouses that are more than deserving of their spot on this list of the best of the best.
It only makes sense that a competitor from the Gracie family (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gracie_family) would be included on this list. As a descendant of the family responsible for the creation of the sport, Roger has carried on the legacy of highly-skilled fighters that continue to excel and shape the direction of the sport.
Roger is a winner in pretty much anything he attempts, seeing very few losses over the course of his career thus far. He has the most World Championships of any competitor, and hasn't been tapped in competition since he was a blue belt.
He's truly an amazing competitor, and deserves one of the top spots on our list.
Although not as dominant as Roger, Royler Gracie made a name for himself in the 90's as a king of the featherweight division. Shockingly, he was also able to hold his own in the open weight division, holding his own against opponents far bigger than he was. He proved that mass can be outmaneuvered by skill, and his achievements place him solidly as one of the best competitors in recent history.
Pe De Pano
A rather controversial player, Pe De Pano was definitely a troublemaker. His hot temper and history of picking fights with competitors didn't make him many friends in the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but there's no denying his dominance and skill as a competitor.
Renowned for his guarding skill, he outmaneuvered his opponents and racked up a series of achievements that dwarf the negative impact of his bad behavior. He's also one of the few competitors that has beaten Roger Gracie - a significant accomplishment given Gracie's absolute dominance in the ring.
Roberto Magalhaes, better known by the moniker 'Roleta', is a competitor with a serious guard game and an equally serious list of accomplishments to match. He created many trademark moves that continue to be a part of modern jiu jitsu instruction to this day, and his unique technical prowess led him to an impressive amount of World Champion titles.
Although he's taken a bit of slip competitively in the past few years, Xande Ribeiro's achievements are significant. Despite taking a break to dabble in MMA and a series of injuries that really set his career back, he's still quite accomplished, with 2 world titles in open weight and 5 more in his division.
Saulo Ribeiro is a competitor with an interesting yet successful history. As a blackbelt in both BJJ and Judo, his dominance in the ring was largely due to his excellent throws and balance. He's won major tournaments both in submission wrestling and jiu jitsu, and has managed to succeed in multiple divisions as his weight fluctuated over the years.
Marcelo Garcia is currently the best middleweight champion in the world, a division that is perhaps the most competitive grouping in the sport. His submissions are impressive and effective, leading him to continued success year after year in worldwide competitions. In addition to being a dominant competitor in current competition, it's safe to say that Garcia will be remembered as one of the best BJJ fighters of all time.
Though his recent track record hasn't been as impressive, Fernando Augusto is perhaps the most charismatic fighter in BJJ history, and he was a serious powerhouse in his prime. In addition to being a serious competitor, his fights were exciting to watch and transformed BJJ into a popular sport on the world stage. He's also left a legacy in his students, one of the most successful of which is included below.
As a former student of Fernando Augusto, his achievements come close to matching his mentor. With multiple BJJ Championship wins and Pan American Championship wins, he's a dominant force in his weight class and has been at the top of his division for years, coming in first an impressive 5 years in a row.
It's difficult to decide the "best of the best" in any category, but especially Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. These competitors are some of the best in recent history and warrant inclusion on this list, but you'll find impressive competitors wherever you turn. As the sport continues to develop, promising up and coming competitors may very well unseat the greats as modern masters of this exciting martial art.