Top 13 - Active Submission Artists in the UFC (2018)

Here is a list of some of the very best submission artists who are currently still fighting in the UFC. I am just a fan with no grappling credentials so this is by no means an official list and I welcome other suggestions of the finest BJJ wizards out there.

I have mentioned the fighter's Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu rank along with summarizing their grappling accomplishments which I have obtained online so there could easily be inaccuracies. More medals does not necessarily mean they are better as fighters compete for different periods of time, at different events and at different stages of their career but how they have transitioned these skills into MMA is important so I have also mentioned how many submission wins/losses they have had in MMA.


Honourable mentions

BJ Penn and Anderson Silva

Both of these legends would be at the top of the list if they were in their prime. They are still active but at the end of their careers so do not quite make the list.

BJ Penn

Rank: 5th degree black belt
MMA Submission wins: 6
MMA Submission losses: 0

World Jiu-Jitsu Championship: Gold x1 Silver x1 Bronze x1

Total medals: 3

Anderson Silva

Rank: 3rd degree black belt
MMA Submission wins: 6
MMA Submission losses: 2

 

13. Antônio Carlos Júnior

Antônio Carlos Júnior aka Shoe Face has looked sensational so far in his MMA career and transitioned his skills over majestically. He has had 13 fights and won 10 of them with 8 subs and he hasn't just been submitting bums. Tim Boetsch, Jack Marshman and Eric Spicely (all terrific grapplers) have all been choked out in his last 3 fights.

Rank: Black belt
MMA Submission wins: 8
MMA Submission losses: 0

ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship: Gold x2 Bronze x2
Pan American Championship: Gold x2

Total medals: 6

12. Mackenzie Dern

Mackenzie Dern has more Jiu-Jitsu accomplishments than anyone on this list but we just haven't seen much of her in MMA and she is yet to come up against elite MMA fighters with well-rounded skills including wrestling.

Rank: Black belt
MMA Submission wins: 4
MMA Submission losses: 0

ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship: Gold x1
World Jiu-Jitsu Championship: Gold x2 Bronze x3
World Jiu-Jitsu Championship (No gi): Gold x2 Silver x2
Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship: Gold x2 Silver x2 Bronze x2
European Championship: Gold x3
Brazilian National Championship: Gold x2
Asian Open Championship: Gold x6
World Cup: Gold x3

Total medals: 30

11. Alexey Oleynik

The Boa Constrictor has been around forever. He is a 4th degree black belt as well as a Master of Sports in Combat Sambo with an MMA record of 56-11-1. The man just loves fighting and especially showing off his Ezekiel choke which is astonishing to see without a gi.

Rank: 4th degree black belt
Submission wins: 44
Submission losses: 2

10. Nick and Nate Diaz

I am underqualified to make this list, let alone say who the better Diaz brother is. Nick is a 3rd degree black belt whereas Nate is a 2nd degree but I doubt Nick dominates every time they roll.

Nick Diaz
Rank: 3rd degree black belt
Submission wins: 8
Submission losses: 0

US Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Open: Gold x1
Pan American Championship: Gold x1

Total medals: 2

Nate Diaz
Rank: 2nd degree black belt
MMA Submission wins: 12
MMA Submission losses: 1

9. Luke Rockhold

Luke Rockhold's top control is on a different level with immaculate technique. It is not just the number of subs he has but the ease in which he choked out elite fighters and top grapplers such as Lyoto Machida and Michael Bisping.

Rank: Black belt
Submission wins: 10
Submission losses: 0

IBJJF World Jiu-Jitsu Championship: Gold x2
Pan American Championship: Silver x1

Total medals: 3

8. Gunnar Nelson

Gunnar Nelson always looks like he is waiting in line for a sandwich but he is a stone cold killer. He is so strong on the mat even though he is smaller than virtually everyone he fights. Just ask Jeff Monson who is 230 lb wrestler/monster.

Rank: Black belt
Submission wins: 12
Submission losses: 0

World Jiu-Jitsu Championship: Gold x1
Pan American Championship (gi): Silver x1
Pan American Championship (no gi): Gold x1 Silver x1

Total medals: 4

7. Rafael Dos Anjos

RDA has fought some of the very best grapplers in MMA but has never been submitted if you do not count that loss to Clay Guida which was due a jaw injury.

Rank: 3rd degree black belt
Submission wins: 9
Submission losses: 1

Brazilian National Championship: Bronze x1
European Championship: Bronze x1
World Jiu-Jitsu Championship: Gold x1

Total medals: 3

6. Demetrious Johnson

Mighty Mouse is in a league of his own at the moment and so well-rounded that it is easy to forget just how world class his Jiu-Jitsu is. He made fellow black belt, Wilson Reis look like a yellow belt and who can forget what he did to Ray Borg?! 

Rank: Black belt
Submission wins: 11
Submission losses: 0

5. Brian Ortega

T-City is just one of those fighters where the crowds just gasp whenever he ties his opponents up. He has become an absolute assassin under Renner Gracie and at just 27 years old he will continue to improve. 

Rank: Black belt
Submission wins: 7
Submission losses: 0

4. Kron Gracie

There is a strong argument for Kron being the best submission artist in MMA - at least top 3 but he just has not had enough MMA fights to top the submission artist list yet.

Rank: Black belt
Submission wins: 5
Submission losses: 0

ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship: Gold x1 Bronze x1
World Jiu-Jitsu Championship: Gold x1 Silver x1
European Championship: Gold x1
Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championship: Gold x2
Copa Pacifica de Jiu Jitsu: Gold x1
BJJ World Championships: Gold x1
World Cup of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Gold x1
Naga Championships: Gold x1
NAGA Chicago Championship: Gold x1
CBJJ Pan American Championships: Gold x1

Total medals: 13 (at least)

3. Fabrício Werdum

Werdum shot to fame after putting the feared legend, Fedor in a triangle to secure the shock win but grappling fans already knew his credentials. By far, the most talented heavyweight submission artist in MMA.

Rank: 2nd degree black belt
Submission wins: 11
Submission losses: 0

ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship: Gold x2 Silver x2 Bronze x2
IBJJF World Jiu-Jitsu Championship: Gold x4 Silver x1 Bronze x2
Pan American Championship: Gold x4 Silver x1 Bronze x1

Total medals: 19

2. Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza

I didn't even know you could get a '6th' degree black belt but Jacare has one. He is a freak on the ground and on paper you would say he is the best submission artist in the UFC, however the next man on the list boasts at least one win over him in BJJ.

Rank: 6th degree black belt
Submission wins: 17
Submission losses: 0

ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship: Gold x2 Silver x3
World Jiu-Jitsu Championship: Gold x8 Silver x2

Total medals: 15

1. Demian Maia

The beast. The best submission artist in the UFC?

Rank: 4th degree black belt
Submission wins: 12
Submission losses: 0

ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship: Gold x1 Silver x1
Pan American Championship: Gold x1
CBJJ World Championship: Gold x1 Silver x2
CBJJ Brazilian Championship: Gold x1 Bronze x3
CBJJ Team Championship: Gold x3 Silver x1 Bronze x1

Total medals: 15