The constant evolution in BJJ is seen not only in the techniques and styles of our times, but also in the grapplers that are rising up and slowly starting to overtake and dominate the competition scene. The up-and-coming youngsters of the new millenium have proven that they can scrap with fighters that have been black belts for many years and that experience does not necessarily ensure you the win. In this article we are going to take a look at some of the best teenage BJJ competitors (19yrs and below) and dive deep into their gold-coloured careers.
Tye and Kade Ruotolo
These 17-year old phenoms have competed against some of the most elite competitors in BJJ and submission grappling and have proved time after time that they belong there with the biggest names of the sport. They have been training since they were 4 and have been killing it in the kids and juveniles divisions. Tye and Kade represent ATOS JJ and train with the pro grapplers of the team since they became teenagers. At last year`s ADCC Worlds Tye reached the semifinal of the -66 kg. division and then had a very close battle with Paulo Miyao for the bronze medal. In the first day of the most prestigious grappling event in the world he defeated the much older seasoned vet Bruno Frazatto and Pablo Mantovani. Shortly after ADCC Tye defeated the savvy Vagner Rocha at F2W event. Ruotolo brothers are no strangers to the submission only rulesets and have wins at Grapplefest, Fight To Win and many other sub-only events. Their relentless attacks and unlimited gas tanks are admirable and the Ruotolo bros may very well be in the list of the most exciting grapplers in the world right now.
Just like his older brother (Gordon Ryan), Nicky is a ruthless leg lock master and a name to be reckoned with in the No Gi scene. At just 18 years of age Nicky has proven himself as one of the most dangerous members of the Danaher Death Squad. This young stud has made some jaws drop in the BJJ community with his technicality and fierce attacks. Nicky has showcased his skills not only in the submission only scene against much older black belts, but also in ADCC tournaments. He won his ticket for the ADCC Worlds last year with a stunning performance in the West Coast trials where he submitted all of his opponents (including Kade Ruotolo and Richard Alcaron). He scored a win against World champ Jamil Hill-Taylor at ADCC Worlds and then had a very close battle with Paolo Miyao. Other big names that Nicky has beaten are Geo Martinez, Masakazu Imanari, Urijah Faber.
Nicky Ryan with the Polaris featherweight belt
This 16 years old Brazilian kid had probably the best 2019 out of all the grapplers in this list. He became one of only a few athletes in history to achieve the IBJJF double grand slam (weight and absolute champ at Worlds, Pans, Euros, and Brasileiro). Last year Micael was 33-0 in the IBJJF, with 31 submissions and conceding only six points in those fights. Micael competes mostly in the Gi and is considered by many the best competitor out of the Alliance affiliated Dream Art team.
Mica Galvao promoted to purple belt after winning double gold at Sul-Americano in 2019
This young lady has been racking up wins in the submission-only No Gi circuit since 2018 and is considered to be the future of 10th Planet JJ. She is just 17, but she has made her wat into the professional level of grappling, currently holding titles in the Quintet Team Survival invitational (open weight), Onnit Invitational tournament, and Finishers Only tournament. Grace was awarded 10th Planet JJ Brown belt by her instructors JM Holland and Zach Maslany in 2019.
Grace Gundrum during a match from Quintet Fight Night 3
William and Andrew Tackett
William (19) and Andrew (16) have taken the No Gi submission-only world by storm. Representing Brazilian Fight Factory from Austin, Texas, both brothers rely on heavy pressure passing and creating scrambles to expose the back or smother their opponents in half-guard/side control until they find an opening for submission. William is a current Fight 2 Win brown belt middleweight champ and it seems like he will not be dethroned soon – he submits every opponent thrown at him in this organization. He has scored wins at KASAI events and also made it to BJJ Fanatics Grand Prix ¼-finals where he had a very competitive fight with Tex Johnson. William was just a step away to qualify for ADCC Worlds last year as he reached the final of the West Coast trials, but got guillotined by John Combs there. Andrew`s most recent impressive performance was at JitzKings in January. The youngster reached the final of a 16-man bracket and had a very close fight with Ethan Crelinsten where he conceded a sweep in the very last seconds and lost the match due to that. Andrew is just a blue belt, but has proven that he has a very bright future in front of him.
Still a teenager (19), but has already won 7 World titles (4 Gi, 3 No Gi) as well as 4 Pan-American and 3 European IBJJF titles! Jessa is one of the most talented up-and-coming AOJ representatives and one of the very best ladies in the roosterweight division today. She has also showcased aggressive submission game in some invitational events like Who`s Number One, F2W and EBI. It is safe to say that is just a matter of time before we see her racking up wins in the black belt divisions.