Top 5 Jiu-Jitsu Competitors That Would Do Great in MMA

Top 5 Jiu-Jitsu Competitors That Would Do Great in MMA



With BJJ still being considered an amateur sport, many sport BJJ competitors look to transitioning to MMA.Examples of current top MMA fighters that came from sport Jiu-Jitsu: Jose Aldo, Fabricio Werdum, Ronaldo Jacare, Demian Maia, Bibiano Fernandes etc..

Here are the 5 top sport BJJ players that have a great potential for a crossover in the MMA world:

*Criteria are to have a 0-0 MMA record, to be under 30 years old (to be considered a prospect as there are less chances of having successful MMA career when transitioning later in life), and to have announced plans to one day transition to MMA.

1.Makenzie Dern

Age: 22

Strengths: Speed, foot locks, technical, mental.

Belt Rank: Black Belt

Potential Weight Class: straw weight

Mackenzie Dern is the daughter of ‘Megaton’ Dias. Incredibly, she started competing in the adult divisions of tournaments at the age of 14!
2015 was an amazing year for Mackenzie Dern. She won the Pan, World Pro at weight and Absolute, the Worlds, silver at Europeans and now the ADCC!
What’s next for a girl that has won everything?
At only 22, Mackenzie Dern will be making her MMA debut in Spetember at Legacy FC.


4.Garry Tonon

garry tonon metamoris

Age: 24

Strengths:Wrestling, leg locks, speed.

Belt Rank: Black Belt

Potential Weight Class: Featherweight

Grappling sensation Garry Tonon is one of the top names in professional Jiu-Jitsu, and he has announced his plans to transition to MMA in 2016.

Tonon has a solid wrestling background, and world class leg lock game.
He made the announcement on his Facebook page and also said that he would be doing it at 145 lbs:

It’s official, I will be attempting to make feather weight for nogi worlds this year. I plan to have an MMA fight within a year and I will likely be fighting 145 so this will be a good test to see if i can handle the cut. Also After competing against Imanari at 150 pounds day before weigh in and feeling very good at that weight I believe I can make the 149 same day weigh in required to preform well at feather weight.


3. Yuri Simoes


Age: 25

Strengths: Explosiveness, technical, No Gi, takedowns. 

Belt Rank: Black Belt

Potential Weight Class: Middleweight.

At ADCC 2015, Yuri Simoes had the best performance in his career so far: 1rst place at -88kg, beating heavy favorites such as Romulo Barral and Keenan Cornelius on the way. In 2014, Yuri had won the No Gi worlds also beating Cornelius in the finals, and also won the Pan. Simoes has a great mixture of world class Jiu-Jitsu and very good wrestling.

Although he still plans to build his legacy in Jiu-Jitsu, and compete as much as possible in tournaments a future in MMA is possible. He has talked back in 2013 about one day transitioning to MMA. 


2. Rodolfo Vieira


Age: 26

Strengths: Takedowns,Explosiveness, Guard Passing, Top Game.

Belt Rank: Black Belt

Potential Weight Class: Middleweight/ Light Heavyweight.

5x jiu-jitsu world champion at black belt, Rodolfo Vieira won his first ADCC title this year.
After winning the -99kgs final, Vieira was offered a pro MMA contract by Japan based Real Fight Championship (where Kron Gracie made his debut).
Vieira told MMAFighting.com:

“I got nervous when they made the offer, but will still think about it. They told me think about it, if I want to fight this year or in 2016. But it’s not an easy decision. I will talk to my coach and see what I’ll do.”
“I’m too short for 205 pounds. I believe I would have to fight at 185.”

Vieira, has beaten top MMA fighters in grappling matches, such as Antonio Braga Neto, Antonio Carlos Junior, Sergio Moraes, Andre Galvao, and Alan Belcher.
Vieira has been flirting for a long time with the idea of transitioning to MMA. He recently recovered from a herniated discs injury that kept him out of the World Pro and the IBJJF worlds.

He has moved to Florida to train at American Top Team and will have his MMA debut in Japan in October.


1.Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida


Age: 25

Strengths: Aggressiveness, Explosiveness, Speed, Agility, Mental.

Belt Rank: Black Belt

Potential Weight Class: Heavyweight/ Light Heavyweight

4x World absolute champion Marcus Buchecha Almeida has anounced that his transition to MMA will happen sooner than many people expected.
Buchecha underwent surgery last August in Brazil for the knee injury that he sustained against Ricardo Evangelista during their 3rd round encounter at the Worlds back in May.
The surgery was to reconstruct the torn ACL ligament on his left knee. Buchecha’s doctor gave the champion a minimum of five months before coming back to 100% again.
Buchecha missed ADCC 2015 held in Sao Paulo in August.
He has won everything in BJJ: 8x world champion at black belt, ADCC 2013 champion, 3x World Pro champion. Buchecha wants to focus on MMA:
Buchecha told Combate:

“I always wanted to do it, I have always been curious about it, but I never rushed it. I always chased my goals in jiu-jitsu where I got 10 world titles, six of them as a blackbelt. Time goes by and after this injury in my knee I thought about many things, I don’t want to postpone it any further. I will start boxing, I’ve been thinking about this a lot.”

In a past interview, Marcus Almeida Buchecha, revealed that the lack of financial opportunities in BJJ opens doors for athletes move to MMA.

“The main federations of BJJ do not offer much prize money. We, professional athletes need that. “
Buchecha has been training with AKA and with UFC champions Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez. A move to MMA will be interesting for him as he has the style of aggressive BJJ that will translate well to MMA.