Who’s who in the realm of the BJJ Worlds

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The Deluxe Book Jiu-Jitsu Worlds–A Tale in Photos is out

The Deluxe Book Jiu-Jitsu Worlds–A Tale in Photos is out; pass by GRACIEMAG booth at the 2013 Worlds to get your copy

When I decided to pull up my sleeves to produce the book “Jiu-Jitsu Worlds–A Tale in Photos,” I faced the classic challenge of choosing how to define the editing criteria.

Who should be in the book, and how much space should they be given? It’s impossible to be absolutely objective, but regarding history and the athletes that made that history in the course of these 17 installments that contain the scope of my research, I strived for Utopian justice.

Obviously other cognoscenti may disagree and argue, but my cut was based on data I have gathered during all these years, which helped me organize the athletes into the following groups:


Absolutely amazing

This is the very select group of 10 fighters who have won the most important title in our sport – the black-belt open. They are:

  1. Roger Gracie (2007, 2009 and 2010)
  2. Xande Ribeiro (2006, 2008)
  3. Márcio Pé de Pano (2002, 2003)
  4. Ronaldo Jacaré (2004, 2005)
  5. Amaury Bitetti (1996, 1997)
  6. Rodrigo Comprido (1999, 2000)
  7. Zé Mario Sperry (1998)
  8. Fernando Margarida (2001)
  9. Rodolfo Vieira (2011)
  10. Marcus Buchecha (2012)

The Outliers:

Restricted to those with four or more black-belt titles in their weight class. In my opinion, they belong in this order:

  1. Saulo Ribeiro (5 titles, 10 podiums)
  2. Marcelo Garcia (5 titles, 8 podiums)
  3. Robson Moura (5 titles, 6 podiums)
  4. Bruno Malfacine (5 titles, 6 podiums)
  5. Fabio Gurgel (4 titles, 8 podiums)
  6. Roberto Roleta (4 titles, 7 podiums)
  7. Rubens Cobrinha (4 titles, 7 podiums)
  8. Royler Gracie (4 titles)

Female powerhouses:

The girls started competing later (in 1998) and their open was only created in 2007. But for their excellent technical level and memorable performances, I chose the following ones:

  1. Leticia Ribeiro (7 titles, 13 podiums)
  2. Gabi Garcia (6 titles, 2 in the open, and 8 podiums)
  3. Michelle Nicolini (5 titles, 1 in the open, and 7 podiums)
  4. Kyra Gracie (4 titles, 1 in the open, and 11 podiums)
  5. Luanna Alzuguir (4 titles, 1 in the open, and 9 podiums)
  6. Hannette Staack (7 titles, 9 podiums)
  7. Bianca Andrade (6 titles, 8 podiums)
  8. Lana Stefanac (2 titles, 1 in the open, and 4 podiums)


At least three titles in their weight class at black belt. I used the number of podiums
as a tiebreaker.

  1. Romulo Barral (3 titles, 9 podiums)
  2. Márcio Feitosa (3 titles, 8 podiums)
  3. Fredson Paixão (3 titles, 5 podiums)
  4. Bráulio Estima (3 titles, 6 podiums)
  5. Celso Venicius (3 titles, 5 podiums)
  6. Vitor Shaolin (3 titles, 4 podiums)
  7. Rafael Mendes (3 titles, 4 podiums)
  8. Guilherme Mendes (3 titles)

The notable:

These fighters have two titles, or one title plus several medals*

  1. Mario Reis (2 titles, 10 podiums)
  2. Leonardo Leite (2 titles, 6 podiums)
  3. André Galvão (2 titles, 5 podiums)
  4. Fernando Tererê (2 titles, 4 podiums)
  5. Fabrício Werdum (2 titles)
  6. Caio Terra (1 title, 5 podiums)
  7. Leo Vieira (1 title, 5 podiums)
  8. Rafael Lovato, Jr. (1 title, 6 podiums)
  9. BJ Penn (1 title)
  10. Murilo Bustamante (1 title, 4 podiums)
  11. Ricardo Libório (1 title, 2 podiums)

*In fact, there are several other athletes with one or two titles at black belt which were not included on this final set, because of the limited space available; so for this last group I opted for a more subjective criterion, looking for champions with an important history in the pre-Worlds period. BJ Penn was included for the feat of being the first non-Brazilian champion at black belt. Rafael Lovato Jr. would go on to match his achievement and even add five other medals to it.

Naturally, the history of the BJJ Worlds is not limited to the black belt, but including other belts would make the editing criteria massively complex, and I would be hardpressed to be totally fair trying to select a few among the thousands of participants over 17 years.

Disagree with this selection? Feel free to join the conversation below:

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