5 Jiu Jitsu Matches That Made History

Royce Gracie and Dan Severn grappling in the Octagon

Throughout history, iconic matches have captured the imagination of Brazilian jiu jitsu fans worldwide. Some contests have even changed the course of the sport due to their competitive significance and memorable moments.

Let’s take a look back at 5 historic matches that every BJJ enthusiast should know. Study these legendary bouts to understand the technical evolutions of the gentle art.

Royce Gracie vs Dan Severn – UFC 4

This 1994 fight cemented BJJ as a dominant force in the early days of MMA. Royce Gracie, representing the art his family pioneered, defeated much larger opponent Dan Severn via triangle choke. The bout proved technique could overcome size and power.

Rorion Gracie vs Ron Van Clief – UFC 4

Rorion Gracie, Royce’s older brother, also showcased BJJ’s prowess in a UFC tournament bout against kickboxer Ron Van Clief. Despite the experience disparity, Rorion dominated positionally before sinking in a rear naked choke.

Rolls Gracie vs Waldemar Santana 

Rolls Gracie is considered one of the most technical BJJ competitors ever. His tough match against the legendary Waldemar Santana in the 1970s demonstrated the evolving guards and submissions of BJJ.

Roger Gracie vs Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida – ADCC 2009

This epic 13 minute battle between Roger Gracie and the young phenom Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida perfectly illustrated high level BJJ. Non-stop action before Roger secured the win via armbar.

Rafa Mendes vs Cobrinha – IBJJF Worlds 2013

Two of the best lightweight grapplers in history, Rafa Mendes and Cobrinha waged an epic back and forth war at black belt. In the end, Rafa completed a rare triangle choke from the back.