The rise of social media and its importance had an impact on almost every business sphere in the world. And, like it or not, BJJ is not just a sport but a business too! Those Jiujiteiros that have figured this out are now predominantly using Instagram in order to market themselves – and successfully so. But it’s not just about the business side, of course. These athletes have an enormous reach and influence on an INCREDIBLY high number of people… Which makes them really important players in how the world and future of Jiu Jitsu are turning out to be.
With that said, here are the 10 BJJ athletes with the largest number of followers on Instagram!
RODOLFO VIEIRA – 316.000 FOLLOWERS
The first one on the top 10 list is Rodolfo Vieira, with 316.000 followers to his name on Instagram. Most well-known for his dynamic guard passing style, immense physical strength and explosiveness, as well as for the colorful set of grappling skills, he solidified his name as one of the top grapplers of his generation; predominantly by becoming a 4x World Champion, 5x ADCC champion and a 7x World Cup Champion.
Currently, he is building his career as a UFC Middleweight fighter.
JOHN DANAHER – 319.000 FOLLOWERS
Even though he was never a competitively successful athlete, John Danaher‘s fame is well deserved. His intricate and very detailed, research-like and in depth knowledge of what makes a BJJ technique and position successful has turned him into perhaps the best-known BJJ Instructor in the world. His „Danaher Death Squad“ sows fear and reaps competition successes wherever it turns up, which is a testament to his knowledge; worldly recognized and appreciated by pros and amateurs alike.
The Instagram followers of Professor Danaher have an amazing opportunity to get a deeper insight into his genius mind; to become better through his written word alone.
MENDES BROS – 376.000 FOLLOWERS
Despite the fact that, today, they’re best known as the owners and head coaches of the famed Art Of Jiu Jitsu academy, the Mendes Bros – Guilherme and Rafael Mendes – have also been one of the most exciting and successful Jiujiteiros in their prime. Their exciting, innovative and creative game was the key to the implementation of many techniques on a broader scale in Jiu Jitsu (such as the Berimbolo and 50/50 Guard).
Almost everyone in the BJJ community likes them – including their 376.000 Instagram followers.
LEANDRO LO – 347.000 FOLLOWERS
5X world champion.
RICKSON GRACIE – 392.000 FOLLOWERS
Rickson Gracie‘s name is synonymous with „legend“. He is a 9th degree BJJ red belt and one of the Gracie family members that are most responsible for the popularization of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; which he did predominantly through his Vale Tudo matches in Brazil and Japan during the 1980’s and 1990’s, which he absolutely dominated.
Many regard him as the greatest BJJ athlete that ever lived.
DEMIAN MAIA – 410.000 FOLLOWERS
Demian Maia is regarded as one of the best grapplers in MMA and UFC history. He is a 2007 ADCC champion and a 2x World Cup Champion in BJJ; an athlete with the 6th place on the UFC welterweight rankings (as of November 4, 2020), and the UFC’s fighter with the longest submission win streak – 5 in a row.
His 410K Instagram followers have a great insight into the training and mindset of one of the world’s all-time greats.
MARCUS „BUCHECHA“ ALMEIDA – 411.000 FOLLOWERS
With 13 World Champion titles, Marcus „Buchecha“ Almeida is a force to be reckoned with. He is a black belt under Rodrigo Cavaca and a member of the Checkmat academy; with his successes positioning him as one of the most dominant Jiujiteiros that history has ever seen. He is side by side with Demian Maia in terms of Instagram; he is at a 411.000 followers base, which gets to see what his training looks like on a regular basis.
GABI GARCIA – 423.000 FOLLOWERS
Gabi Garcia is a 3rd degree BJJ black belt, one with the most domineering competition run in the female division history. She is a 10x World Champion, a 4x ADCC champion, an 11x Pan American champion; and, on top of that, she is an MMA fighter with a pro score of 6-0. She is a very positive individual, sharing her love for the Gentle Art with over 423.000 people on Instagram!
ANDRE GALVAO – 496.000 FOLLOWERS
Andre Galvao – 496K strong on Instagram – is regarded as one of the most well-known and one of the top grapplers to have ever stepped foot onto the mats. He is a multiple time IBJJF World Champion, a 2x ADCC champion, and an 8x Pan American Champion. With that, he is an owner and head coach of the formidable Atos Jiu-Jitsu Academy, which cultivated many other world-class and world champion athletes itself.
RENZO GRACIE – 514.000 FOLLOWERS
And wouldn’t you know it: the second place on the athletes with most Instagram followers list is none other than Renzo Gracie! A passionate individual and regarded as one of the most warm-hearted people you could meet by everyone who knows him, Renzo is a legend in the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. One of the most important people for Jiu Jitsu’s exposure as it is today, he is a 6th degree black belt under Carlos Gracie Jr.; one with ENORMOUS successes both as a BJJ coach and academy owner.
No wonder his followers base is so huge – deservedly so.
KYRA GRACIE – 710.000 FOLLOWERS
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EDDIE BRAVO – 722.000 FOLLOWERS
RONALDO JACARE SOUZA – 725.000 FOLLOWERS
The 2x BJJ absolute world champion and UFC middleweight contender Jacare has a huge following on IG.
RODRIGO MINOTAURO NOGUEIRA – 730.000 FOLLOWERS
BRIAN ‘T CITY’ ORTEGA – 751.000 FOLLOWERS
MACKENZIE DERN – 835.000 FOLLOWERS
Of Brazilian descent but born in Arizona, Mackenzie Dern is a BJJ athlete with by far the biggest follower base on Instagram: 835.000! She has 4 world titles to her name as a BJJ black belt, as well as quite a successful MMA career; where she will fight her next match in the UFC on December 12 this year.
Mackenzie is rather active on her Instagram account. And, to explain it shortly, there’s no other female athlete in the sport of BJJ as well-known as Mackenzie Dern!
FABRICIO WERDUM – 1 MILLION FOLLOWERS
Fabricio Werdum is a 2nd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He is a 2x IBJJF black belt world champion and also a 2x ADCC world champion making him one of the most accomplished Jiu Jitsu fighters in the UFC.
He is also a 2x UFC heavyweight champion…
Notable Submission Wins:
Cain Velasquez via Guillotine Choke
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira via Armbar
Fedor Emelianenko via Triangle Armbar
Alistair Overeem via Kimura.
ASHTON KUTCHER – 4.2 MILLION FOLLOWERS
Ashton Kutcher came back in BJJ news late last year when he was promoted to brown belt by his long time instructor Rigan Machado. Kutcher has been training more or less regularly for the past 5 years (He got his purple belt at the end of 2014).
Kutcher started training BJJ sometime in 2013, got his blue belt in early 2014 and purple at the end of 2014. The progression was very fast but Kutcher, having grown up in Iowa, had a strong wrestling background.
JOE ROGAN – 11.3 MILLION FOLLOWERS
Joe Rogan has long been one of the most influential people in the bjj community and out of it. He is the host of the biggest podcast in the world and signed a $100 million deal with Spotify. The 52 year old stand-up comedian, mixed martial arts color commentator, podcast host, and businessman is notorious for his intense work outs – after all he is a black belt both under Jean Jacques Machado and Eddie Bravo the 10th Planet system.