The Top BJJ Practitoners in The World of MMA

There are some great BJJ practioners out there.  Many of them have chosen a career in mixed martial arts and many of them have faired very well.  However, the transfer is not easy and MMA is a different baby than jiu jitsu.  If you don’t believe me try taking punshed to the face while working for your submissions.  Some guys have been very successful.  Any time I give a list I am sure to make notable omissions.  Any omissions are out of my ignorance and not simply a bad ranking.  Ranking jiu jitsu practioners in MMA is difficult because of weight class divisions.  However, I will rank them by overall success in MMA, potential to be a champ and jiu jitsu credentials in the MMA world.

 

1.       Demian Maia – The UFC middleweight contender may not be the best in the world at jiu-jit-su, but he has done very well in MMA and is always a submission threat.

2.        Ronaldo “Jacare” de Souza – He has done well in MMA and is a legend on the ground

3.       Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – His MMA career merits him a top spot.

4.        Royce Gracie

5.        Ricardo Almeida

6.        Rousimar Palhares

7.        Jake Shields

8.       Shinya Aoki

9.       Vinny Magalhes – The TUF 8 cast member is a stud on the ground and as of now he is NOT better than Nogueira

10.   Robert Drysdale – I was hesitant to put him on this list because he just started in MMA, but he very well may be the best BJJ practitioner in the world right now

11.    Roger Gracie

12.   Waggney Fabiano

13.   Alexandre “Xande” Ribeiro

14.    Fabricio Werdum

15.   Dean Lister

16.    Dustin Hazelett

17.    Nate Marquardt

18.    Thales Leites

19.   B.J. Penn

20.   Nate Diaz

21.   Frank Mir

22.   Gabriel Gonzaga

23.   Ricardo Arona

24.   Rani Yahya

25.   Renato “Babalu” Sobral

26.   Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

27.   Andre Galvao

28.   Vitor Belfort

29.   Marcio Cruz

30.   Jeff Monson

31.   Mark Kerr

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Breaking Down the UFC Middleweight Division

The Champion: Anderson Silva

The Top Contender: ?

The Next Tier:

·         Yushin Okami

·         Nate Marquardt

·         Michael Bisping

·         Dan Henderson

·         Demian Maia

·         Thales Leites

·         Patrick Cote

·         Chael Sonnen

 

On the Rise: 

·         Demian Maia

·         Michael Bisping

 

Other Notables:

·         Denis Kang

·         Rousimar Palhares

·         Martin Kampmann

·         Chris Leben

·         Ricardo Almeida

·         Nate Quarry

·         Jason MacDonald

·         Wilson Gouveia

·         Goran Reljic

·         Dan Miller

·         Dean Lister

·         Kendall Grove

·         Alan Belcher

·         Ed Herman

·         Jorge Rivera

·         Alessio Sakara

·         C.B. Dolloway

·         Mike Massenzio

·         Matt Horwich

·         Jake Rosholt

·         Amir Sadollah

 

Scheduled Fights:

·         Nate Loughran vs. Tim Credeur at UFC Fight Night 16 on December 10

·         Jason MacDonald vs. Wilson Gouveia at TUF 8 Finale on December 13

·         Yushin Okami vs. Dean Lister at UFC 92 on December 27

·         C.B. Dolloway vs. Mike Massenzio at UFC 92 on December 27

·         Denis Kang vs. Alan Belcher at UFC 93 on January 17

 

Match Ups I’d Like to See:

·         Yushin Okami vs. Anderson Silva

·         Thales Leites vs. Rousimar Palhares

·         Demian Maia vs. Michael Bisping

 

Other Thoughts:

·         The UFC Middleweight division is very, very underrated!  I believe it is because of Anderson Silva’s dominance.  The middleweight division does not have a clear number 1 contender, but from top to bottom I would put this division with any.  Albeit, the UFC’s competitors have some middleweight talents in the likes of guys like Gegard Mousasi, Jacare, Vitor Belfort, Matt Lindland, Jorge Santiago,and  Kazuo Misaki.  Not to mention the few solid middleweights from EliteXC such as Robbie Lawler, Joey Villasenor, Scott Smith, Frank Shamrock and Benji Radach.  The UFC is sure to pick some of those guys up

·         Rumor has it the UFC is in negotiations with top middleweight Yoshihio Akiyama.  I do not know if they call pull him away from DREAM and Sengoku, but that would be a huge add. 

·         The middleweight division is growing with adds like signing Denis Kang, the move of WEC’s division which will add Chael Sonnen and Jake Rosholt as well as guys like Aaron Simpson and Danillo Vilefort likely to come over.

·         Paulo Filho will not be in the UFC…yet.

·         TUF 9 will feature middleweight coaches with Michael Bisping being a lock.  The other names being thrown around are Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt and even Demian Maia

MMABlog’s Middleweight MMA Rankings

The middleweights were hard to rank down towards the last 10.  Sorry if I left some good guys out.

Rank

Name

Organization

Next Fight

1

Anderson Silva

UFC

 Cote (#12), 9/25

2

Paulo Filho

UFC

Sonnen (#16) 11/3

3

Rich Franklin

UFC

Next Fight at LHW

4

Dan Henderson

UFC

Next Fight at LHW

5

Robbie Lawler

EliteXC?

 

6

Kazuo Misaki

Strikeforce

1/4

7

Nate Marquardt

UFC

 

8

Matt Lindland

Affliction

Sobral (LHW) ) 1/24

9

Yushin Okami

UFC

Lister (NR), 12/27

10

Gegard Mousasi

DREAM

Belfort (#25,) 1/24

11

Thales Leites

UFC

McFedries (NR), 9/25

12

Patrick Cote

UFC

A. Silva (#1), 9/25

13

Michael Bisping

UFC

 

14

Yoshihiro Akiyama

 

 

15

Ronaldo “Jacare” de Sousa

DREAM

 

16

Chael Sonnen

UFC

Filho (#2) 11/3

17

Demian Maia

UFC

Quarry (#18), 11/15

18

Nate Quarry

UFC

Maia (#17), 11/15

19

Joey Villasenor

EliteXC?

 

20

Cung Le

Strikeforce

 

21

Jorge Santiago

 

 

22

Chris Leben

UFC

 

23

Jason Macdonald

UFC

 

24

Martin Kampman

UFC

 

25

Vitor Belfort

Affliction

Mousasi (#10) 1/24

 

Others Considered: Ricardo Almeida, Rousimar Palhares, Dean Lister, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Frank Trigg

UFC 88 Fighter Salaries

Chuck Liddell – $500,000

Dan Henderson – $250,000

Rashad Evans – $180,000 (Includes $60,000 KO of the Night Bonus and $60,000 win bonus)

Jason MacDonald – $104,000 (Includes $60,000 Submission of the Night Bonus)

Rich Franklin – $100,000

Kurt Pellegrino – $84,000 (Includes $60,000 Fight of the Night Bonus)

Thiago Tavares – $73,000 (Includes $60,000 Fight of the Night Bonus)

Nate Marquardt -$56,000

Dong Hyun Kim – $46,000

Ryo Chonan – $30,000

Jason Lambert – $17,000

Tim Boetsch – $16,000

Martin Kampmann – $15,000

Matt Hamill – $10,000

Roan Carneiro – $9,000

Matt Brown – $8,000

Rousimar Palhares – $7,000

Mike Patt – $5,000

UFC 88 Thoughts and Recap

Quick Results:

Rashad Evans def. Chuck Liddell by KO in round 2

Rich Franklin def. Matt Hamill by TKO in round 3

Dan Henderson def. Rousimar Palhares by unanimous decision

Nate Marquardt def. Martin Kampmann by TKO in round 1

Dong Hyun Kim def. Matt Brown by split decision

Jason MacDonald def. Jason Lambert by submission in round 2

Tim Boetsh def. Mike Patt by TKO in round 1

Kurt Pellegrino def. Thiago Tavares by unanimous decision

Ryo Chonan def. Roan Carneiro by split decision

Fight of the Night: Kurt Pellegrino vs. Thiago Tavares

Submission of the Night: Jason MacDonald

Knockout of the Night: Rashad Evans

My Predictions: I went 6 of 9 (I missed the Rashad Evans vs. Chuck Liddell, Martin Kampmann vs. Nate Marquardt and Kurt Pellegrino vs. Thiago Tavares fights)

My Thoughts on UFC 88:

  • Rashad Evans was impressive as heck.  I was utterly shocked.  I thought after round 1 Chuck would finish it.  Rashad looked good all round 2.  He was winning that fight even before the KO.  By the way, that was one of the most vicious KO’s I have ever seen in one punch.  That will be a highlight reel KO for years to come.  That will be knockout of the year candidate.  Rashad Evans showed he was no joke.  I don’t know if he deserves the title shot he was granted in December, but I won’t complain about it too badly.  I still think Machida deserves it.
  • Rich Franklin is back.  I love Rich Franklin.  He is a class act fighter.  He is super talented and always improving.  His striking is world class.  He is a threat in the light heavyweight divison.  There are some guys he would lose to, but I think he would beat Forrest or Rashad right now.  I am glad to see him back on track.
  • Matt Hamill looked good in the loss.  He showed he is improving his striking.  I think he still needs to rely on his bread and butter more of take downs and ground and pound, but he wants to show his striking.  Rich was just too experienced for him and found a weakness in his game and exploited it.  Hamill will be back and in my opinion he is still a top 15 light heavyweight.
  • Dan Henderson looked alright, but nothing special.  I think that is because Palhares is that good.  Palhares has a solid chin and superior submissions.  Keep his name in mind because he will be back too.
  • The most impressive performance to me was Nate Marquardt.  Nate has always had excellent grappling and submissions, but he showed versatile and skilled striking against a dangerous Kampmann.  He looked crisp and solid.  He is in the top heap at 185.  I’d love to see him fight Dan Henderson or Michael Bisping with the winner getting a title shot.  However, it may be that after Cote, Silva will get Okami.  Then Bisping is likely the next guy in line.  Then perhaps a re-match with Marquardt or Henderson. 
  • Some people think Matt Brown should have gotten the decision over Dong Hyun Kim, but I don’t think so.  I think Kim won round 1 due to submission attempts and a near finish and I think he won round 3 due to the take downs and big elbows out the end.  I think Kim looked really good against a tough as nails Matt Brown who showed some improvement.  Kim is a contender at 170 and though many people think he shouldn’t have won, and though I am sure he would have rather finished the fight, a win is a win and he will climb the ladder.
  • Tim Boetsh looked impressive against UFC newcomer Mike Patt, and I think if he can gain some cardio he can be a contender at 205.

My Predictions For UFC 88: Breakthrough

Chuck Liddell vs. Rashad Evans

Rashad is good and improving.  He can knock someone out as seen by that highlight reel KO of Sean Salmon.  But that was Sean Salmon, this is Chuck Liddell.  I just cannot help but to feel Liddell is on another level.  I look for Liddell to win by KO in round 2 and get ready for the Griffin match in December.

Rich Franklin vs. Matt Hamill

This is interesting.  These are two of my favorite in MMA.  Both are good guys.  I don’t like the match up because of that.  Franklin is more experienced.  Franklin has fought at 205.  I think Franklin wins this one, especially is it stays standing.  Cardio could be a factor.

Dan Henderson vs. Rousimar Palhares

Palhares is good.  I think he could win this one.  This is a must win for Dan Henderson.  Palhares has pheneomenal jiu jitsu skills.  Den Henderson’s strikig has to be the advantage and his clinch game has to be aweomse, but Palhares has prepared for this.  I think this could be an upset, but Dan is my pick to win by decision.

Martin Kampmann vs. Nate Marquardt

Tough tough fight here to pick.  We will see how Kampmann’s injury really is.  If it is not bothering him he wins.  I suspect he wins by submission.

Matt Brown vs. Dong Hyun Kim

Matt Brown is known for his toughness.  Kim looked impressive against War Machine.  I think he wins this one by TKO in round 2.

Thiago Tavares vs. Kurt Pellegrino

Roan Carneiro vs. Ryo Chonan

Tim Boetsch vs. Mike Patt
Jason Lambert vs. Jason MacDonald

Mid Year MMA Awards

Best Knockout

Honorable Mention: Luis Arthur Cane KO Jason Lambert, Shane Carwin KO Christian Wellish, Murilio Rua TKO Tony Bonello, Matt Wiman KO Thiago Tavares

5. Anthony Johnson KO Tommy Speer

4. Wilson Gouveia KO Jason Lambert

3. Brian Stann KO Doug Marshall

2. James Irvin KO Houston Alexander

1. Wanderlei Silva KO Keith Jardine

Best Submission

Honorable Mention: Antonio Nogueira submits Tim Sylvia by Guillotine, Yoshiyuki Yoshida submits Jon Koppenhaver by Anaconda choke, Nate Diaz submits Kurt Pellegrino, Cole Miller Submits Jorge Gurgel by Triangle Choke

5. Demian Mia Submits Ed Herman by Triangle Choke

4. Frank Mir Submits Brock Lesnar by Kneebar

3. Rousimar Palhares Submits Ivan Salaverry by Armbar

2. Dustin Hazelett Submits Josh Burkman by Armbar

1. Shinya Aoki Submits Katsuhiko Nagata by Aokiplata

Best Fight

Honorable Mention: Shinya Aoki vs. Gesias Calvancante, Cung Le vs. Frank Shamrock

5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Tim Sylvia

4. Urijah Faber vs. Jens Pulver

3. Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith

2. Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin

1. Miguel Torres vs. Yoshiro Maeda

Best Fight Card

5. WEC 34: Faber vs. Pulver

4. UFC 80: Rapid Fire

3. UFC 81: Breaking Point

2. DREAM 4

1. UFC 84: Ill Will

Upset of The Year:

Honorable Mention: Jason Day over Alan Belcher,

5. Thiago Alves over Karo Parisyan

4. Kevin Burns over Roan Carneiro

3. Fabricio Werdum over Gabriel Gonzaga

2. Josh Thomson over Gilbert Melendez

1. Forrest Griffin over Quinton Jackson

Fighter Of The Year:

Honorable Mention: Anderson Silva, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Michael Bisping, Georges St. Pierre, Diego Sanchez

5. Miguel Torres

4. Forrest Griffin

3. Thiago Alves

2. Shinya Aoki

1. B.J. Penn (2 Impressive wins over Sean Sherk and Joe Stevenson)

Best UFC Newcomer:

Honorable Mention: Shane Carwin, Brock Lesnar

5. Rousimar Palhares

4. Dong Hyun Kim

3. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

2. Goran Reljic

1. Cain Velasquez

Worst Calls By A Ref. or Judges

5. Forrest Griffin over Quinton Jackson –  Not just that Forrest got the win, but that it was unanimous.  Many, including me scored the fight either a draw or to Jackson

4. Brandon Vera vs. Fabricio Werdum- Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight in round 1 when Werdum was mounted on Vera throwing down punches.  There was just 10 seconds remaining and Vera seemed to be defending himself well. 

3. Nate Marquardt vs. Thales Leites — Leites got the win, but lost the fight.  He lost the fight due to two points taken away from Marquardt.  One point was justified, but the other was due to elbow to the back of the ehad that wasn’t to the back of the head.  I will confess, that another point could have fairly been deducted for an illegal slam, but I hated to see Marquardt get a loss on his record that I feel he won

2. Phantom split decisions — How was Evan Tanner vs. Kendall Grove a split deicsion?  How was Heath Herring vs Cheick Kongo a split decision?  The right person got the decision, but how was it split?

1. Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson – Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight in the 3rd round while Thompson was still standing and failed to stop it when Thompson was mounted on Kimbo raining down elbows