A number of high profile bjj players announced their transition into mixed martial arts in the past year alone. But this is a road that doesn’t pan out for everyone and success in one discipline isn’t necessarily interchangeable with success in another. This list details some of these unfortunate cases where a prominent bjj athlete just couldn’t make it work in mma.
While American TopTeam created many successful MMA fighters, the creator of this team – Ricardo Liborio, know as the best Carlson Gracie black belt, hasn’t fared well in MMA.
In 1996 was the first ever jiu jitsu world champion in the super heavyweight division, and was also named most technical. Back in 2001, for his MMA debut, he fought Ikuhisa Minowa in Japan to a draw. This fight is available on youtube but it might as well be titled 15 minutes of rolling on the ground. Liborio went in for the takedown straight from the bat and grappled the entire match but never managed to get a submission. His opposition managed to throw in a few punches in between defense maneuvers. The match was subsequently declared a draw. It was revealed that Liborio got a hard knee in the face and broke his jaw and lost 5 teeth. He had to have 11 surgeries as a result. It was the end of his MMA career and the beginning of his coaching career.
Jean Jacques Machado is a man standing behind many successful introductions into BJJ.
But when he first arrived in USA there weren’t any competition in the bjj scene for black belts. HE wanted to try something new so he tried his hand at sport Sambo and MMA. While he had some success in Sambo he went against then undefeated Frank Trigg in MMA and lost in round 3 due to a cut while he was shooting in for a single leg. This took place in October 1998. This was his first and last MMA fight.
Nino Schembri was one of the most exciting grapplers but his bjj offence often utilized his flexibility as well as offensive guard game which didn’t necessarily have an important place in MMA.
The king of the omoplata had mixed results in MMA. He started his MMA career in Pride on the right foot: 3 out of 5 total victories he had in mma were his first 3 matches. This spree was followed with 4 straight losses. The final nail in the coffin of his MMA carrer was a loss by knock out in 30 seconds by Mauro Chimento Jr. Nino’s record stands at 5-5 at spans from 2001 to 2008.
Another great competitor from the early 00s was Alexandre Dantas.
He’s had victories in grappling over Fabricio Werdum, Marcelo Garcia as well as Damien Maia. But unlike Maia and Werdum, Dantas couldn’t handle the transition into MMA. He lost fights at UCF 27 (against Yuki Kondo) and UFC 41 (against Gan McGee): both by knock out. He retired from MMA with 0-2 record.
Another GOAT to be defeated by Yuki Kondo via knockout, in no more than 22 seconds in fact was Saulo Ribeiro.
Saulo’s shortlived MMA career featured 2 Rear Naked Choke victories and the above mentioned knockout for a final of 2-1.
Marcelo Garcia is one of the most beloved and greatest jiu-jitsu practitioners of all time. Sadly this didn’t count for much in his K-1 MMA debut against Dae Won Kim.
He went in offensively. Tried his hand at getting the takedown but after failing to place the rear naked choke in round 1, he got hit by knee to the face in the first minute of round 2 which resulted in a nasty cut and the fight was stopped by the doctor. That was his first and last MMA fight.