Current MMA Champions with BJJ Background
In the early days of MMA, it was typically style versus style, which means a boxer against a jiu-jitsu fighter, or a Taekwondo fighter against a wrestler. Well, that has gone to the wayside and you must be completely well-rounded to be a champion in the current state of affairs.
That doesn’t mean that some fighters don’t have backgrounds in their original martial arts studies some have competed in those aspects of the game before stepping into the cage.
We will look at current MMA champions with a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu background, these competitors could have competed in Submission Sharks Jiu Jitsu Gear. And some of those champions still step on the BJJ mats today.
Which MMA Champions Have A BJJ Background?
We won’t leave this just to the UFC, since there are other promotions out there, however, the UFC does have a few champions that have stepped on the mats. These will be mostly no-gi competitors, however, there are some gi players on the list, but this won’t be a guide for the best BJJ Gis on the market.
He may not be the undisputed champion, but he is the interim heavyweight champion. He began training BJJ at the age of 12 and won several competitions during his teenage years. Inside the Octagon he has utilized his BJJ skills on several occasions, including submitting Andrei Arlovski and Alexander Volkov.
The former UFC flyweight champion and current ONE Championship flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson is a brown belt in BJJ. He has utilized his grappling prowess throughout his MMA career, including one of the best submissions of all time, simultaneously suplexing and then snagging an armbar against Ray Borg at UFC 216.
To test his jiu-jitsu skills, “Mighty Mouse” the 2023 IBJJF Masters World Championship and won gold, defeating six opponents.
While Jon Jones wouldn’t be the top BJJ practitioner on the list, he does have a background in the sport and has competed on many occasions. Recently, we have even seen him on the mats training with the GOAT of grappling, Gordon Ryan.
On Wikipedia, it has him listed as 5-0 in his grappling career, with all five victories coming via submission. The current UFC heavyweight champion last competed in 2016, when he earned an arm-triangle choke submission against Dan Henderson at Submission Underground 2.
Of his 27 victories, Jones has submitted seven of his opponents. Most recently he tapped out Ciryl Gane via guillotine choke to become the UFC heavyweight kingpin at UFC 285.
The current UFC bantamweight champion, Sean O’Malley, may have only won once via submission in his MMA career, however, the brown belt in jiu-jitsu has had some grappling accolades outside of the cage.
The striking wizard, who earned 135-pound gold at UFC 292 against Aljamain Sterling, has competed on the jiu-jitsu mats on several occasions.
He was a member of team UFC at Quintet: Ultra and was able to submit Takanori Gomi via guillotine choke in the opening round, however, lost to Hector Lombard in his next match. And went to a draw against Gilbert Melendez in the next round of the tournament, which is not too shabby in its own right.
In 2020, O’Malley entered the 155lbs Advanced No-gi division of Grappling Industries Phoenix and placed third in a seven-man division, only losing to the eventual winner, Robert Degle.