The trend for high-end Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitors to transition into mixed martial arts is not a new idea. BJJ is nowhere near as lucrative as fighting in MMA is, and it is doubtful that will change any time soon. So it is natural for successful BJJ guys to attempt to parlay their success on the mat to success in the cage.
But what is the best strategy for those who make that jump? Is there a best strategy? It will depend on the angle you examine the question from, but here is a quick review of a few top-level BJJ guys who have gone into MMA.
Guys Who Seem to Have Made the Transition Well
- At the time of this writing Brasa jiu-jitsu fighter Demian Maia is 7-0 in his MMA career, and has two UFC wins behind him. Three of Maia’s first four fights occured in Brazil in organizations without too much of an international spotlight.
- Ronaldo “Jacare”, like Demian Maia, began fighting in Brazil. Despite his debut fight being a loss, Jacare has come up through various organizations and since then gone undefeated. He now carries a 9-1 record and his next fight will be in Japan soon.
Guys Who Are Finding Their Way
- Roger Gracie. Now 2-0 in MMA, Gracie fought once in 2006 and so far just once in 2008. It remains to be seen whether the world champion in BJJ will make MMA his focus.
- Marcelo Garcia. “Marcelinho” made his MMA debut in October 2007. While he controlled the first round of his fight against his Korean opponent in K-1 Hero’s, Garcia fell prey to a bloody cut in the second round and was forced to take the loss. No formal announcements have been made about a return to MMA action for Garcia. He recently relocated to Florida and now that he is settled perhaps we will see him give MMA another shot.
Guys Who Are Going to Take the Plunge
- Robert Drysdale is now the resident grappling instructor at Randy Couture‘s gym in Las Vegas and is will be making his debut in mixed martial arts in early October. The organization in which he will fight has not been announced but wherever he ends up fighting, his debut will take place in a regional event.
- Andre Galvao is set to make his debut at a small mixed martial arts event in Los Angeles on August 30th. His opponent is still unknown but this is also a conservative entry into MMA for this member of Brasa.
- Xande Ribeiro It was announced in ADCombat.com that Xande will be making his MMA debut at the end of September in Japan fighting for Sengoku. It has been known for quite a while this product of Gracie Humaita was going to make the transition but details were not known. Xande has stated in interviews here on The FightWorks Podcast that he did not want to accept just any offer to fight, so that BJJ champions who follow in his steps later have a benchmark of what should be fair compensation for an athlete of his caliber.
This generation of BJJ superstars moving into MMA reaffirms to jiu-jitsu fans and practitioners everywhere that jiu-jitsu is worthwhile as a means of protecting oneself. The pressure on these guys to fight well and represent jiu-jitsu is enormous! Good luck! We are with you!