We are announcing the OntheMat Editors Poll to help keep track of the very best Professional No-Gi Submission Grapplers.
Who are the BEST Grapplers in the World?
It started off with a question posed on one of the forums, about who the “Best” American No-Gi submission grapplers were. A lot of names were thrown around; I had a different tact, there are certainly a lot of fine American grapplers around, however by definition the best should be the lone person that stands on top of the mountain, so to speak.
As there are so many different organizations and events in which grapplers can participate in, it is difficult to decide a true #1. Thus we are announcing the OntheMat Editors Poll to help keep track of the very best Professional No-Gi Submission Grapplers. This list is purely subjective, but highly informed, and will be updated from month to month.
The best example we have currently of a world champion would be the ADCC (Abu Dhabai) Submission Grappling Championships thus we will use their weight classes for simplicities sake. AS it currently stand, the champions of the last ADCC are all considered to be the best grapplers in world in their respective categories.
World’s Best Grappler’s
67K: Leo “Leozinho” Viera
76K Marcelo Garcia
87K Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza
99K Roger Gracie
99K and over: Jeff Monson
Leo Viera defended his title in 2005 as the best grappler in the world at 67K –despite having a severely broken foot. It took him time to recover, he next participated at the Rickson Gracie Budo challenge (gi) a few months later and although he won, he didn’t quite look up to usual high standard. He next participated in PSL’s LA Sub X and put on an absolute clinic showing why many consider him to be pound for pound the most exciting grappler on the planet. Leozinho’s next plans are not revealed yet, but we hope it’s not too long before we see him back on the scene.
Marcelo Garcia may be the most talked about man in submission grappling right now. His title run at ADCC 2003 revolutionized the game with both his X-guard and more importantly his back control, and he repeated his effort in 2005. He is among the most active grapplers on the list, taking on all challenges, great and large and almost always emerging victorious. Marcelo recently relocated to New York to teach. He is uninterested in MMA unless the offer is “very lucrative”. He will be taking on Jake Shields this Friday at PSL’s X-Mission
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza is an absolute terror with the gi on, and earned the title of OTM’s BJJ Player of the year in 2004. In 2003 he took second at the ADCC championships, however in 2005 he came back to win the title and take second in the absolute. The 2x defending Mundial BJJ Absolute champion, Jacare sat out this year to concentrate on his MMA career. Jacare will be taking on former UFC Champion Randy Couture at PSL’s X-Mission (submission grappling) this Friday.
Roger Gracie is unofficially the new champion of the Gracie family, and the OTM Submission Grappler of the year 2005. His performance at ADCC 2005 in ending 7 of 8 matches by submissions surely ranks among the greatest feats in our young sport. Roger is more active on the BJJ circuit (he is a three time runner up in the Mundials Absolute Title) an will make his MMA debut at Bodog Fights on December 2nd against Ron Waterman.
Jeff “the Snowman” Monson was the OTM Submission Grappler of the year 2004 and at one point was the most active competitor on the planet, competing nearly every weekend in some kind of event for a period of about 18 month where he only lost one contest! He has curtailed his participation in Submission Grappling tournaments somewhat but remained active, this Saturday he is fighting Tim Sylvia for the UFC heavyweight title.
Best Submission Grapplers in the United States:
67K Javi Vazquez
76K Jake Shields
87K Chris Moriarty
99K Dean Lister
99K and over: Jeff Monson
Javi Vazquez was the ADCC North American Champion in 2005. He had a bout afterwards against Kaol Uno in which he lost, and then was sidelined with injuries for over a year (including missing out on the ADCC championships). That inactivity almost cost him the top nod here, but he has jumped into various gi competitions as of late, and scored victories over two other people who would be on the short list of top contenders here: Jeff Glover and Rick Lundell. When he is on, Javi Vazquez is certainly a candidate for the most exciting grappler around period, with his natural athleticism, speed and blend of jiu jitsu and wrestling. Javi will likely continue to make appearances at major grappling events, and is contemplating a return to MMA
Jake Shields took third at ADCC 2005, going 3-1 despite suffering a serious injury in the second round. He later went on to win a stacked field at the California Open Absolute Submission Grappling, but where he is really making waves is in MMA, where he is considered one of the top contenders in the very tough welterweight division and is definitely the king of the so called “B” ranked shows. Jake Shield’s next challenge will be at X-Mission, where he takes on Marcelo Garcia.
The best American 87K grappler was a very, very tough one to call, but with his title at the ADCC North American Trials Chris Moriarty may well be the hottest American Grappler this year. In addition he has two 3rd place finishes at the Brown Belt Absolute at Copa Mundo and Mundials this year respectively. Chris plans to continue to be active until the ADCC Championships.
Dean Lister, as the 2003 ADCC Absolute Champion and 2005 Super Fight winner earns the nod as top grappler at 99K. Dean has been among the most visible people on this list, being brought in as Tito Ortiz’s jiu jitsu coach in the Ultimate Fighter 3. Dean has lately been concentrating on his school and his own MMA career (he will be fighting in the UFC in December), as well as a showdown against Roger Gracie at ADCC 2007.
Note that to be considered for the choice as “World’s Best Grappler”, the title must be rigorously defended against note worthy opponents. It is not a suggestion that anyone is undefeatable. A change in ranking might come from a loss, or inactivity, or simply someone else proving to be more noteworthy of late.
In the coming months we will attempt to establish a top 5 rank of professional submission grapplers, as well as look as rank other regions, including Brazil, Europe and Asia and cover women as well.
Let the debate begin! Do you agree with our choices? Have some suggestions of your own? Want to discuss the Submission Grapplers further? You have to check out the OTM Forum then!