BJ Penn, George Sotiropoulos and the Top 15 BJJ Fighters Competing in the UFC

Andrew MahlmannCorrespondent IFebruary 18, 2011

BJ Penn, George Sotiropoulos and the Top 15 BJJ Fighters Competing in the UFC

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    The UFC was originally created to showcase the superiority of the martial art known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

    Now, all modern fighters are trained in the art.  Without knowledge in BJJ, fighters would be helpless to defend themselves against ground techniques and submissions.

    Of course, some fighters are still able to separate themselves from the pack when it comes to competency in the art of BJJ.

    Even though their opponents train every day, it cannot measure up to the years of study and technical mastery these practitioners exemplify.

    Qualification is based on technical ability, utilization and overall efficacy.

    These are the top 15 BJJ fighters competing in the UFC.

Honorable Mention

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    Mark Bocek

15. Evan Dunham

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    As a BJJ black belt, Dunham is expert at using his lanky frame for leverage.

    Dunham has submitted has submitted six opponents in his MMA career. His most impressive was an armbar over Efrain Escudero at 'Fight Night 20' which earned him the "submission of the night" award.

14. Antônio Rogério Nogueira

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    Younger brother to the legendary Rodrigo Nogueira, Rogerio is also an elite BJJ fighter.

    He has submitted six opponents in his MMA career and is a top level black belt who is a master to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

13. Matt Serra

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    Matt Serra is a second degree black belt and was the first American to achieve black belt under famous fighter and trainer Renzo Gracie.

    Serra has won BJJ black belt tournaments and is a crafty and creative veteran who introduced new techniques to MMA audiences in his early UFC career.

12. Chris Lytle

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    Chris Lytle is a dangerous all around opponent who can find an opening on the ground and snatch up the opportunity as quick as anyone in the business.

    In a testament to his versatility, he has five victories in the UFC by way of submission, and they are all different:

    Bulldog choke, guillotine, triangle choke/kimura, kneebar, and straight armbar. 

11. Jim Miller

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    Jim Miller and his brother, UFC middleweight Dan Miller, are two of the most respected BJJ fighters competing in the UFC today.

    Both have submitted three men in their UFC runs, but Jim gets the edge over his brother for snatching a beautiful knee bar over dangerous Brazilian Charles Oliveira. 

10. Kenny Florian

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    Florian is a black belt and accomplished BJJ competitor.

    In the UFC he has submitted an remarkable seven opponents by way of rear-naked choke. 

9. Jake Shields

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    A BJJ black belt under Cesar Gracie and proponent of his proprietary "American Jiu-Jitsu" (which infuses wrestling), Shields is one of the most dangerous submission artists in the sport.

    Shields has six submissions in his current 15-fight unbeaten streak. That includes his high profile UFC debut, where he out-grappled Martin Kampmann, a formidable grappler in his own right.

8. Anderson Silva

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    As a black belt under the Nogueira brothers, Anderson Silva has really taken his BJJ to new levels.

    Silva most recent submission victory was a beautiful triangle/armbar over Chael Sonnen, but his two most impressive submission victories are over Dan Henderson and Travis Lutter.

    Lutter is a BJJ black belt himself and Henderson is an Olympic-level wrestler who had only lost by way of submission to Anderson's masters, the Nogueira brothers.

7. Nathan Diaz

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    Nate Diaz has a brown belt under the legendary Cesar Gracie, but has already proven his BJJ capabilities in the cage are beyond that of black belt fighters.

    Just in the UFC, the young Diaz has already taken out five fighters with submissions, winning "Submission of the Night" honors twice.

6. Rousimar Palhares

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    Palhares burst into the UFC with a devastating first-round armbar over respected veteran Ivan Salaverry.

    The BJJ black belt is a powerful and devastating finisher who is known especially for his leg locks.

    Opponents who face Palhares fear tangling with the Brazilian on the ground because it will usually end in a painful defeat.

5. Frank Mir

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    One of the most dangerous and respected submission artists in the history of the heavyweight division.

    Former Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir has an impressive seven victories in the UFC by way of submission, including an infamous armbar over Tim Sylvia to win the UFC Heavyweight championship, which left Sylvia with a broken forearm. 

4. George Sotiropoulos

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    One of the few black belts out of Australia, Sotiropoulos has taken his game to the next level by working with famed trainers Matt Serra out of New York and Eddie Bravo out of California.

    Currently riding one of the longest winning streaks in the UFC, Sotiropoulos has taken out four of his seven victims by way of submission.

3. BJ Penn

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    Penn earned the nickname "The Prodigy" by becoming the person to achieve black belt status the fastest, and becoming the first non-Brazilian to win the black-belt level of the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship.

    Inside the octagon, Penn has managed to submit such MMA stars as Matt Hughes, Jens Pulver, Joe Stevenson and Kenny Florian.

    Penn is the only man to have submitted Florian in his MMA career.

2. Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira

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    The legendary "Big Nog" has submitted an amazing 20 fighters throughout his career and is known as one of the premier submission artists in the sport's history.

    One of those submissions was a slick third-round guillotine choke over former heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia for the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship.

    With the win, Nogueira became the only man to have claimed championships in both the UFC and Pride organizations. 

1. Demian Maia

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    Maia is a fourth-degree black belt and one of the most accomplished BJJ tournament competitors in the world.

    He took the MMA world by storm when he entered the UFC, winning five straight matches by submission and earning four "Submission of the Night" awards.

    Regarded by many to have the best technical BJJ in high-level MMA, Maia is the most talented BJJ artist in the UFC and one of the most devastating BJJ fighters ever to compete in the sport.

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