Robert Drysdale: Where Does He Rank Among the UFC's BJJ Players?
Robert Drysdale possesses Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills comparable to any man on the planet.
A gold medalist in the black-belt division at both the 2005 World Jiu-Jitsu championship (Mundials) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championship (ADCC), Drysdale's reputation as one of the premier BJJ practitioners in the world is well earned and well tested.
Since he began his MMA career in July 2010, Drysdale has posted a Ronda Rousey-esque record of six wins and no losses, all via first-round submission. In fact, Drysdale's longest fight to date lasted a meager 2 minutes, 54 seconds, and his average fight time is a preposterous 1 minute, 48 seconds.
To say the man is exceptional on the mat is to underscore his true greatness. There are black belts in the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and then there are truly elite black belts who enjoy an inherent set of prodigal skills than can be neither learned nor replicated.
Robert Drysdale falls into the latter category.
With the recent announcement that Drysdale will join the UFC, making his debut at UFC 163 against Ednaldo Oliveira, via MMAjunkie.com, grappling fanatics have reason to smile wide—the jiu-jitsu virtuoso has arrived on the big stage, and he will get the chance to test his skills against similarly elite jiu-jiteiros.
Names like Fabricio Werdum, Vinny Magalhaes, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, Demian Maia and Roger Gracie dot the UFC's roster, and fans will undoubtedly want to know how Mr. Drysdale stacks up to these veteran ground wizards.
The answer? Favorably.
Drysdale represents a unique case of a top-level grappler who has excelled in formal competition in the past but who is not very active on the BJJ circuit due to his decision to pursue a career in mixed martial arts. Because of this, he does not have the sheer volume of medals or accolades of some of his contemporaries despite the fact that he can certainly compete against them.
To illustrate this point, one needs look no further than Drysdale's 2007 ADCC victory against Marcelo Garcia. In the eyes of many hardcore BJJ enthusiasts, Garcia is "the" man—a small fighter who topples giants, a lock for the Mount Rushmore of BJJ.
If you defeat Marcelo Garcia, you are doing something very, very right. Because of his relative inactivity, however, it is difficult to say Drysdale is better than Maia, Gracie, Magalahes, Jacare or Werdum—they are simply too proven and too consistent as pure BJJ artists.
That in mind, I think Drysdale sits just outside the top five on the UFC's roster where straight grappling skills are concerned, but he resides comfortably in the top 10.
When you're compared to names like Maia, Gracie and Magalhaes, sixth or seventh place is more than respectable—it's remarkable.
Robert Drysdale is a BJJ master, and UFC fans will be treated to a display of nearly unmatched ground skills when he steps into the cage at UFC 163.
Ednaldo Oliveira beware, and don't forget: tapping is the answer to that sharp pain in your elbow.
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