The UFC has been one of the biggest driving forces behind the explosive growth in popularity of mixed martial arts over the last few decades. If, for whatever reason, you had any doubts that MMA was enjoying a dramatic rise in the number of people tuning in to watch fights, recent research has found that it was the fastest-growing sport between 2017 and 2022.
It’s why most sportsbooks have begun to place a lot of focus on the MMA and UFC markets as they seek to serve the fans of these combat sports and build their share of this growing market. Some, such as Caesars sportsbook, have combined this with an attractive free bet promo code that offers more value to bettors.
While there have been some discussions about whether fighters should receive a larger slice of the pie, in recent years, the UFC still retains the services of many of the best and most brutal fighters on the planet.
Some of these fighters are specialists in Karata, others in Taekwondo. Some focus on kickboxing and others prefer to wrestle their opponents. Others still are highly proficient in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Of this latter group, we’ve seen some brilliant fights and fighters over the years, such as Roger Gracie’s use of a Judo trip to get Michal Pasternak into mount and subtract a submission from him using an arm triangle. Another great example was when Miesha Tate came from behind in a fight against Holly Holm, using BJJ to land a rear naked choke in the final round.
Here are some of the most talented Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters we’ve seen in the UFC over the years.
Ronaldo Souza dos Santos, who was better known as ‘Jacare’ which means ‘alligator’ in his native Brazil, was active in the UFC between 2013 and 2021, though he had been competing in MMA fights since 2003.
Before making the switch to mixed martial arts, Jacare was a BJJ competitor and picked up several accolades, including the Brazilian National Champion, the CBJJO World Cup, and a two-time black belt World Champion.
Over his MMA career, Jacare picked up a total of 26 victories from 37 fights as a BJJ specialist, the majority of which were won by submission. His record would have been better had he retired just a couple of years earlier as most of his losses came between 2018 and 2021.
Mackenzie Dern has been practising BJJ for almost all of her life, following in the footsteps of her Brazillian father. She was ranked world No. 1 by the IBJJF though has since slipped down to sixth.
Dern has picked up a lot of medals over her career, including four golds from the Asian Open Championship, two golds at the World Cup, gold and bronze in the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, and a gold and two bronzes at the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
After making her UFC debut in 2018, the 30-year-old currently sits in seventh place in the women’s strawweight rankings. Over her 15 fights, Dern has only lost three, the first in 2019. All three have come by decision, with no submissions or knockouts against her. On the other hand, she has proven herself able to dominate her opponents with seven submissions over her time.
Charles Oliveira is another BJJ fighter from Brazil. He began competing in Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu early in life and won his first tournament in 2003. However, it wouldn’t take long before he switched to MMA.
While moving into MMA, the Brazilian has retained his focus on BJJ and has become a third-degree black belt in the discipline.
Between 2007 and 2010, Oliveira picked up 12 wins while remaining undefeated before deciding to join the UFC. Since then, he’s picked up 21 more victories though lost a further nine fights.
The vast majority of Oliveira’s wins have come from submissions, as you would expect from a BJJ fighter.