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The 10 Best Jiu-Jitsu Practitioners in MMA

The history of mixed martial arts is intertwined with the history of one family, the Gracies. The Gracie family is, without a doubt, the most famous and important family in the history of martial arts

The history of mixed martial arts is intertwined with the history of one family, the Gracies. The Gracie family is, without a doubt, the most famous and important family in the history of martial arts. They’re credited with creating Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a submission wrestling approach to combat that was derived from the Judo taught to Carlos Gracie by Mitsuyo Maeda – a famous Judoka – in the early 20th century. The martial art the Gracies developed stayed mostly within the family until the exposure Brazilian jiu-jitsu received thanks to the creation of the UFC.

You may have heard of Royce Gracie, who's famous for winning UFC 1, UFC 2, UFC 4, and arguably being MMA’s biggest star before anyone had actually figured out what MMA was. However, what fewer people are aware of, is that the concept of the UFC was created by Royce’s brother, Rorion, and that it was a tournament created explicitly to showcase Brazilian jiu-jitsu’s effectiveness to the world. It goes without saying that it was wildly successful, beyond anyone’s expectations.

From day 1, MMA was linked to Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In the early days, back when it was style vs. style, BJJ was shown to be a brutally effective martial art. Now in the modern game, where MMA training encompasses so many different aspects from many different martial arts, the unchallenged dominance of jiu-jitsu based fighters has subsided. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is now a fundamental component of MMA, and virtually all fighters will have at least a little bit of training in it, even if they prefer to stand up and strike. That being said, there are still fighters who prefer to rely on their BJJ skills. They’re usually the ones who began as jiu-jitsu practitioners and later transitioned into mixed atrial arts. These are the men with the strongest jiu-jitsu skills in MMA today.

10 Roger Gracie

9 Frank Mir

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8 B.J. Penn

7 Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira

6 Nick Diaz

5 Jake Shields

4 Demian Maia

3 Rousimar Palhares

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Images

2 Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza

1 Fabrício Werdum

Fabrício Werdum is a Brazilian MMA fighter with an extensive jiu-jitsu background. He won gold in the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004. He also competed in the ADCC no-gi submission tournament, where he won gold in 2009 and 2011. In MMA he has a total professional record of 17-5, and is widely remembered as the man who ended Fedor Emelianenko’s 28-fight unbeaten streak in 2010, when he caught him with a triangle/armbar hybrid and won the fight by submission. Werdum probably has the best jiu-jitsu out of the top ranked heavyweights in the UFC today, and he defeated Travis Browne on April 19th in a match that determined who gets to face UFC Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez for the title.

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The 10 Best Jiu-Jitsu Practitioners in MMA