The Fall Of Jiu-Jitsu in MMA Bouts

So, I am almost certain most of us started training jiu-jitsu because of the early UFC days. Royce was able to do amazing things and this started the BJJ movement in the U.S.

However, these days, it is becoming increasingly rare to see a jiu-jitsu guy or girl who does very well and even rarer do they become champions.

For some people, the answer is obvious and others seem to be baffled by this. I have even heard people say that jiu-jitsu isn’t good for “real fighting” and it really frustrates me. jiu-jitsu still is, in my opinion, the best one-on-one fighting system, but there are a variety of issues that have made jiu-jitsu leave the forefront of the MMA scene.

The Rise Of Sport BJJ

Please don’t kill me for saying this, but let’s face it; a lot of the more common moves these days will not work if you are getting punched in the face. I know people won’t use these moves in MMA, but that’s the point. A lot of guys are not necessarily training the moves they need for MMA. The moves that work in MMA are the basic ones which people don’t tend to use as much.


A lot of the old school Gracie jiu-jitsu strikes from the bottom are illegal because of liability issues. This hampers the ability of a jiu-jitsu fighter to do any significant damage from the bottom and makes defending submissions easier. Also worth noting is that in the early days, Royce was able to wear his gi, which added friction to the game and made locking submissions and clinching a little tighter.


This one kind of sucks, but the casual fans just don’t really like ground work, unless its ground-and-pound. It is a little boring at times, but the Japanese fans have a far greater appreciation for it than the Americans. This is hampered even further by the short rounds which make it very challenging to set up any submissions.

What do you think about the state of jiu-jitsu in MMA? We do have a few guys doing very well and Lovato is even a champion right now, but compared to other arts, we’re losing ground. Do you think jiu-jitsu will ever make a strong comeback in MMA in America?


  1. I would like to disagree. If you look at how many Division I wrestlers are available to make the jump to MMA every year, BJJ puts out a significantly higher proportion of fighters. There are 75 D1 wrestling programs, which means every year there are plenty more wrestlers than BJJ practitioners. This comes because it’s publicly funded via high schools and college scholarships/financial aid. How many qualified BJJ black belts are out there? Maybe two thousand total, where you have 900 wrestlers per year at any one time assuming there are 12 people on each D1 team. I would say BJJ is disproportionately represented because it’s effective. BJJ is one of the core arts of MMA, in MMA you can’t have a zero knowledge in any core discipline. You need to be up to snuff in striking, wrestling, and submissions (BJJ/Catch/Sambo).

    I’m surprised there aren’t more combat Sambo guys like Khabib Nurmagodemov, the grappling rules in combat Sambo don’t allow you to close the guard because it’s considered stalling. What a helpful restriction. Sorry for the long post. Thanks for the space.


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