The grappling ability in MMA is higher than it has ever been. That’s why we want to give you our list of the 10 best BJJ fighters of the current era.
Read below as we go over the careers of the world’s best BJJ fighters and detail some of their highlight submissions.
If you’re also interested in reading about the best BJJ fighters in the history of MMA, check out this link.
10. Shinya Aoki
Let’s start our list off with one of the best BJJ fighters that is still active in Shinya Aoki. He is at the end of his career, but he’s still incredibly dangerous on the ground.
Casual MMA fans may not know much about Aoki since he’s fought mainly in Asia, but the diehards know him well. For decades, Aoki was known for his amazing guard and versatility in his attacks.
Out of Aoki’s 47 wins, 31 of them came by way of submission. Going on to win the Dream Lightweight Championship and the ONE Championship title on two occasions.
9. Garry Tonon
In his young MMA career, Tonon has only had 7 MMA fights and has gone 6-1 overall. Out of his 6 wins, 3 were by submission that were set up perfectly.
He’s been nicely transitioning into MMA and could easily get on higher on the best BJJ fighters list in the future.
8. AJ McKee
The second generation MMA fighter, AJ Mckee has marked his place as one of the top fighters in Bellator MMA. He is a well rounded fighter, that’s well rounded with technical striking and an even better ground game.
A ground game that he has put on full display the last few years. Submitting Darrion Caldwell with an innovative neck crank, then putting Patricio Pitbull to sleep with a guillotine to win the title.
We’ll definitely see more highlight finishes from McKee in the future as he’s recently moved up to the lightweight division. Maybe even become a champ in two different weight classes.
7. Illia Topuria
One of the biggest young prospects in the UFC featherweight division is Illia “El Matador” Topuria. The Georgian fighter that is currently undefeated and has gone on a tear in the UFC.
He has currently won five fights in a row in the UFC and has mainly been showing off his striking ability. Knocking out three of five opponents so far in the promotion.
But what got Topuria to the UFC was a high level grappling game. Eight of his career thirteen wins have come by submission. The last of which was against previously undefeated Bryce Mitchell by arm triangle choke.(The third of his career.)
At twenty five years old, El Matador is already one of the best BJJ fighters in the UFC. We could easily see Topuria crack the top five in the next year with another highlight reel finish.
6. Rodolfo Vieira
Some may take issue with Rodolfo Vieira being on the best BJJ fighters of the year list. Rodolfo has underperformed well below expectations going into the UFC.
But there is no one in the UFC that has the grappling resume like that of Rodolfo Vieira. No other fighter in the roster has won 5 IBJJF World Championships or the ADCC Championship.
Vieira seemed to be on a rocket to the UFC top 10 until he was submitted by Anthony Hernandez. Before that loss, Vieira was 7-0 with all seven wins by submission.
He bounced back after the loss, but then lost his second match to Chris Curtis. If Rodolfo can improve his MMA skills and get more experience, he will be hard to beat going forward.
5. Glover Teixeira
Glover Teixeira has been a fan favorite in the UFC for the last decade. Most people know Teixeira for his knockout power that dropped some of the best fighters ever in the sport.
But late in Glover’s career he has had a career renaissance. Displaying that he’s also one of the worlds best BJJ fighters.
Before losing his title, Teixeira went on a six fight win streak. During that streak, he showed world class grappling skills, beating four of those opponents by submission. Including beating Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title at 42 years old.
The old veteran is still showing he’s one of the world’s best fighters, but has stated he would be retiring soon. If Glover is able to win the title again before retiring, he’ll go down as one of the best fighters ever.
4. Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida
Marcus ”Buchecha ” Almeida is only 4-0 in his young mma career, but he’s one of the greatest grapplers ever. He is a fourteen time world Jiu Jitu champion, which arguably makes him one of the world’s best BJJ fighters.
No heavyweight MMA fighter in the world can hang with Buchecha on the ground. He makes elite level grapplers look like they are Jiu Jitsu white belts.
Buchecha, of course, is fighting opponents well below his skill level in ONE Championship. But to defend Marcus Almeida, there aren’t many in the world that are at his skill level.
As of now, Almeida currently has three submission wins in his four wins overall. That total will no doubt increase as his MMA career continues.
3. Aljamain Sterling
For years, Aljamain Sterling has been considered the best BJJ fighters in the UFC bantamweight division. Now Sterling is proving that he’s one of the best all around fighters in the world.
But it has taken a little time for fans to come around on Sterling. Many fans questioned the legitimacy of Sterling as the champion since he won by disqualification.
Aljamain would prove those critics wrong by decisively beating Petr Yan in the rematch. Proving that he was the true champion of the division.
Then after beating former champ TJ Dillashaw, nobody is doubting Aljamain Sterling anymore. He has proven that he is one of the pound for pound best MMA fighters in the world today
2. Gilbert Burns
Gilbert Burns has long been considered to be one of the best BJJ fighters in the world. He is a four time world Jiu Jitsu champion with two of them in No-Gi.
In MMA, Burns has adapted his grappling game very well into the sport. Having developed great takedowns and control that he has put on display many times.
Two of his best grappling performances came against all time great BJJ fighter Demian Maia and known striker Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Gilbert was able to use his top level takedown defense to completely shut down Maia’s game and won by TKO.
Then against Wonderboy, Burns was able to time his takedowns perfectly to disrupt Thompson’s striking game. Earning a nice win and taking zero damage in the fight.
Right now, Gilbert is looking to bounce back from a loss to Khamzat Chimaev that many believe he won. Gilbert has been displaying his striking power in recent fights, but he can’t forget his world class grappling ability.
1. Charles Oliveira
Charles Oliveira has proven to be the best BJJ fighters in MMA for the last decade. With everything the former champion has accomplished, it’s hard not to have him at the top of the list.
He has the most submission wins in the history of the UFC with sixteen. Many of which were his world class guillotine and rear naked choke.
Take his last two wins against Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje by RNC. Charles goes on a relentless attack throwing various strikes and submission attempts to open up his opponents for the RNC.
No other fighter has the transitions and attacks like the former champion. Oliveira had one the best runs of his career before his last loss and is already considered one of the best ever.
At 33, Charles still has a lot more time in the fight game to add to his legacy. Regaining the title he lost would be the feather in his cap on a long and illustrious career.