Ever since the very beginning, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been an integral part of the UFC. The first UFC event was dominated by Royce Gracie who won all of his fights by submissions. There are many Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specialists in the UFC today, many of which have won world championships in some of the biggest Jiu Jitsu competitions around the world. Transitioning from pure Jiu Jitsu competition to MMA is easier said than done, these submission specialists are the very best MMA has to offer.
Previously we’ve talked about the best Muay Thai fighters in MMA. Today we’ll be talking about the very best Jiu Jitsu specialists in the UFC, these guys are the best of the best when it comes to submitting their dangerous opponents. These are fighters that can completely end a fight at any moment, be careful around these guys because any wrong move can be dangerous for your neck or limbs.
The 10 Best Submission Specialists in the UFC
Brian Ortega is an up and coming fighter who uses his world class Gracie Jiu Jitsu as his main weapon. His speciality is the guillotine choke (the same one he submitted Cub Swanson with). When he turned 13, he began training Brazilian jiu-jitsu at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy under Rorion Gracie in Torrance, California. I believe Brian Ortega has some of the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the UFC at this moment in time. He’s a young guy so expect to see more submissions in the future.
Born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Werdum started training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu after being choked unconscious with a triangle choke by his then-girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend. After success in competitive Brazilian jiu-jitsu and submission grappling, he started his career in MMA. He eventually went on to become the UFC Heavyweight champion through many submission victories. He even submitted Fedor with a triangle choke of his own back in Strikeforce. I believe Werdum will one day become a champion again thanks to his amazing Jiu Jitsu ability.
Ronaldo Souza, or better known as Jacaré, is a world class submission specialist that fights in the UFC. With over 10 submissions in his MMA career, Jacaré is arguably one of the most dangerous grapplers competing today. He is an eight-time World Jiu-Jitsu Champion, including gold medals in the Open-weight class in 2003, 2004 and 2005. I believe Souza may be the most accomplished Jiu Jitsu fighter competing in MMA today and will win that UFC gold one day.
Tony Ferguson is one of the most creative fighters in the UFC today. His submissions and fighting style are so unorthodox that many fighters don’t know how to game-plan for him. Ferguson has the best D’Arce choke in the UFC today, scoring that submission multiple times in the octagon. Ferguson credits his Jiu Jitsu abilities to 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu and Eddie Bravo. Tony Ferguson is a great fighter and and even better submission specialist, the UFC is lucky to have him.
Charles Oliveira recently passed Royce Gracie for the most submission wins (11) in UFC history. He’s also tied with Conor McGregor for most performance of the night awards (6). These accomplishments alone is enough for us to highlight Oliveira as one of the greatest Brazilian Jiu Jitsu submission specialists in UFC history. His Jiu Jitsu is next level, however he lives by the sword and dies by the sword, submitting to the likes of Anthony Pettis and Ricardo Lamas (who also have high level jiu jitsu).
Demian Maia is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu natural, having earned his black belt in less than 5 years time. He is an absolutely submission legend in the UFC already, and he’s just warming up. Maia has recently tested Tyron Woodley for the title, and although he lost, he put up an honorable fight. The moment Maia takes your back you’re in trouble, he has multiple rear-naked choke submissions in the UFC. Maia is a fourth degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and he will go down as a legend of the sport because of his amazing Jiu Jitsu technique.
Luke Rockhold is many things, he’s a former UFC middleweight champion, a successful male model, and he’s also a world class grappler and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specialist. I believe Rockhold may have the most raw talent when compared to anyone else on this list, he didn’t start training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu until later on in his life. I believe Rockhold will one day become a UFC champion again, possibly at the Light-Heavyweight class. He just has too much talent to be ignored or kept off this list, he will definitely score more submissions in the future.
Many people see Joe Lauzon as a “journeyman” now, however he does have some of the best submissions in the history in the UFC. He has over 10 fight award bonuses in the UFC alone, that is absolutely incredible when you really think about it. He has so many UFC bonuses that one of his nicknames is “The Human Bonus Machine.” Joe Lauzon has top level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, scoring him over 15 submissions in his MMA career. I’m not sure if we’ve seen the best version of Joe Lauzon yet, I hope that we haven’t seen the last of his amazing grappling and Jiu Jitsu technique.
Jussier Formiga is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and one of the best submission specialists in the UFC today. He has over 10 submissions in his MMA career, many of them came from inside the UFC octagon. I believe Formiga has a bright future in the UFC, I also believe he will one day claim UFC gold if he continues to put on excellent performances (such as his win at UFC 229). He has excellent Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that has been tested by some of the most terrifying grapplers the flyweight division of the UFC has to offer.
How could we not include Nate Diaz on our best Jiu Jitsu fighters in the UFC list? With over 10 submissions in his storied MMA career, Diaz has firmly cemented his legacy among the best grapplers in UFC history. He has won fight of the night and submission of the night bonuses over 10 times as well. He’s a second degree black belt under Cesar Gracie, a very storied lineage in the Jiu Jitsu world. I believe the best of Nate Diaz has yet to come.
So who has the Best Jiu Jitsu in the UFC?
Every single fighter included on this list has the opportunity to go down as the best submission specialist in UFC history. The best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the UFC is a combined effort of all different stylistic fighters we included. The versatility of Nate Diaz, the raw talent of Luke Rockhold, and the incredible technique of Demian Maia, is why Jiu Jitsu is so important.
Fighters come from so many different backgrounds, have so many different fighting techniques and styles, isn’t this why we love watching the UFC in the first place? We watch the UFC to see fighters compete from all different types of backgrounds to see which style is the best for mma.