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5 Brazilian jiu-jitsu legends who joined the UFC

Mackenzie Dern is one of the most highly credentialed grapplers in UFC history
Mackenzie Dern is one of the most highly credentialed grapplers in UFC history
Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST

When the UFC was born as a concept nearly 30 years ago, the idea behind it was to find out which was the most dominant martial art. As everyone knows, it turned out to be Royce Gracie’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu that won the day.

Royce Gracie! The man that started it all! 🥋Have you gone back and watched UFC 1 on @UFCFightPass yet?! https://t.co/tb63cAv7VJ

The UFC has changed a lot since 1993, with strikers and wrestlers both dominating inside the octagon. However, Brazilian jiu-jitsu has always remained a staple of any UFC fighter’s arsenal.

With that considered, it should come as no surprise that plenty of legends from the world of Brazilian jiu-jitsu have dabbled in the world of MMA and the UFC, often with very differing levels of success.

Some of these fighters have been able to reach the very top of the UFC, while others simply struggled for traction. So without any further ado, here are five Brazilian jiu-jitsu legends who joined the UFC.


#5. Roger Gracie – former UFC middleweight contender

Roger Gracie did well in StrikeForce, but struggled in the UFC
Roger Gracie did well in StrikeForce, but struggled in the UFC

After the massive success of Royce Gracie at the early UFC events, it should hardly come as a surprise that a number of the Gracie family have entered the octagon since.

Renzo, Rolles and Kron Gracie have all stepped into the octagon with varying levels of success. Roger Gracie is probably the most credentialed member of the family to fight in the UFC in terms of grappling.

A genuine legend in the world of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Roger’s grappling record stands at a scarcely believable 67-7-1, with wins over the likes of Fabricio Werdum, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza and Demian Maia on his record.

Even more impressively, while he’s lost seven times in grappling matches, Gracie has still never been submitted in competition. Unfortunately, his MMA career, in particular his run with the UFC, was nowhere near as successful as his time as a grappler.

Gracie entered the UFC in 2013 after putting together a 6-1 record, primarily in Strikeforce. In fact, his final fight under that banner was a submission of current UFC light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith.

Roger Gracie def. Anthony Smith: youtu.be/cSTaME-pGZc via @youtube

However, his only appearance in the UFC saw him well beaten by Tim Kennedy, who largely shut down his stellar grappling game and managed to grind out a clear-cut decision. The fight was Roger’s only UFC fight, as he was cut shortly after, reportedly due to his contract being an expensive one.

While he did win two fights in ONE Championship following his UFC stint, he has not fought in MMA since 2016 and has largely returned to the world of Brazilian jiu-jitsu instead.

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Edited by Harvey Leonard
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