Roger Gracie: Jiu Jitsu’s Greatest Competitor

Roger Gracie: Jiu Jitsu’s Greatest Competitor

One of the greatest of all time competitors that has ever stepped foot on the mat is Roger Gracie. He is considered by many as one of the best grapplers to ever compete.  

Roger was born into the Jiu Jitsu royal family where expectations were high. And he certainly did not disappoint! Gracie by far exceeded expectations, becoming the world’s best Jiu Jitsu competitor for over a decade! 

roger gracie

Roger Gracie's Origin

Roger is the son of Reila Gracie, the daughter of Carlos Gracie and Mauricio Gomes - a Rolles Gracie blackbelt.   

When you are born into a family with a name like Gracie, it carries a lot of weight. From the moment you are born, you are expected to train Jiu Jitsu and become a world champion.   

Roger was no different. He started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at a very young age. At first Roger didn’t have the goal of being a Jiu Jitsu competitor until his late teens. After training with his Uncles Rilion, Carlos Gracie Junior, and his cousin Renzo, Roger had the fire to become a more serious competitor 

Roger Gracie's Early Competition Years

Roger Gracie took to Jiu Jitsu like a fish to water – he is a Gracie after all! He immediately showed great talent from an early age.  

When he first started seriously competing, Roger won just about every competition he entered. In 2000, he dominated both the Pan Ams and Jiu Jitsu World Championships.  

It was the same story at purple and brown belt. Gracie won every tournament he entered - nobody could touch him! 

Roger Dominates The Black Belt Division

After winning worlds at blue, purple, and brown 3 years in a row, Roger was awarded his black belt. In 2003, he would enter the world championship again at black belt.

 At the time he was the most anticipated black belt to compete. The whole Jiu Jitsu world watching!  

Unfortunately, Roger came up just short at his first shot at a world championship at black belt. Earning 2nd place in the absolute division.  

Roger-Gracie black belt

It was obviously just a learning experience for Roger as he did not lose again for a very long time. He went on one of the greatest streaks in BJJ history.  

In the first decade of the new millennium, Roger won every major championship in Jiu Jitsu. Including 10 IBJJF championships at super heavy weight and absolute divisions.  

At the 2005 ADCC Championship, Roger put on one of the greatest performances in ADCC history. He won both the heavyweight and absolute divisions submitting all 8 of his opponents. He put on a clinic! It was an achievement no one had ever accomplished before in the history of the ADCC!  

For a 10 year span, Roger dominated sport Jiu Jitsu accomplishing everything you could in the sport. A run by many that make Roger considered as the greatest of all time best BJJ competitor 

The Style of Roger Gracie

The craziest thing about Roger’s Jiu Jitsu style is that it’s very simple and nothing too exciting about it. This isn’t an insult as everything he does is fundamental Jiu Jitsu and everything he does is perfectly executed. You won’t expect him to do any fancy new school moves, but you expect him to choke you out with the basics  

Gracie does textbook picture-perfect Jiu Jitsu and it is what helped him win nearly every championship for a decade. In Gi, he would generally finish all of his opponents by his trademark cross choke from mount.  

He also is known for being incredibly strong with some unbelievable grip strength. The most notable instance of his insane grip strength was at the 2007 IBJJF Championships. In the super heavy finals, Roger ripped the sleeve of Robert Drysdale’s brand new Koral Gi.  

Nobody believed that they just watched Roger rip one of the most durable Gis on the market. Robert Drysdale to this day considers Roger the strongest competitor he had ever faced by far. 

roger gracie mma

Gracie Makes the Jump To MMA

During his run of winning Jiu JitsWorld Championships, Roger dabbled into the MMA world. He won his first two matches by submission. After he decided to semi-retire from Jiu Jitsu competition in 2010, he started to give his full attention to MMA.  

He would first sign his first big MMA deal to fight with Strike force at the light heavyweight division. He would win his first 2 fights by RNC, but his momentum was immediately stopped after being KO’d by Muhammed Lawlal.  

Roger would bounce back winning two straight matches. He did eventually try his hand in the UFC. Roger went up against Tim Kennedy but would lose a decision in his only UFC match.  

After that, he signed a multi fight deal with One FC, fighting a couple more times before he decided to hang it up. Roger Gracie went 8-2 in his professional MMA career.

Roger's Final BJJ Match

After announcing his retirement from MMA, Roger announced that he would have one final Jiu Jitsu match. He competed against Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida at the Gracie Pro event in 2017.  

Almeida is considered the best heavyweight of his generation and it would make a great fight going against Roger.   

They met once before at a Metamoris event competing to a draw, so this would be a rubber match. Roger’s last match against Buchecha may have been his greatest performance ever.  

From the start, he controlled the reigning world champion, completely shutting down Almeida’s game. He would finish Buchecha with a cross collar choke from the back – an amazing end to an amazing career.  

Life After Jiu Jitsu

Since retiring from Jiu Jitsu, Roger is now a full time Jiu Jitsu instructor. He opened his very own school - Roger Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy in London, England. It’s a highly rated schoolamong the best schools in the UK and one of the best BJJ schools in the world.

Final Thoughts

Roger Gracie has cemented his legacy as one of the greatest competitors who has ever lived. He used textbook fundamental Jiu Jitsu to dominate the Jiu Jitsu world for over a decade! Although he didn’t use any fancy advanced Jiu Jitsu moves like you would see in today’s modernized BJJ, he simply used the basics and simply dominated the BJJ scene. Roger is unlike any other competitor out there. He arguably remains the best out there!