Guest post from David @ TheMMAGuru.com
5. Dean Lister
Dean has done a lot for the sport of Jiu Jitsu (and the broader world of MMA). He is known for popularizing leg locks in BJJ, and inspired John Danaher to create his leg lock system.
One thing that doesn’t get mentioned enough about Lister is his career as a grappler. Without a doubt, he is one of the best No-Gi competitors ever.
Lister is only one of a few grapplers that have won at ADCC multiple times. He brought home the gold in 2003 and 2011. He also holds the ridiculously impressive record of submitting 12 ADCC opponents by leg lock. Definitely an icon in No-Gi grappling, Dean deserves a place on the all-time competitor's hall of fame.
4. Royler Gracie
Known for being the Gracie family member with the most championship titles, Royler is one of the best No-Gi athletes Jiu Jitsu has ever seen. In his grappling career, he won 9 major championships including 3 ADCC titles in 3 straight years (1999, 2000, and 2001).
During the 90’s, Royler dominated the featherweight division in BJJ and earned the title “King of the BJJ Featherweight Division.” In his nearly 20-year grappling career nobody has had a run quite like Royler. Royler is currently a 7th degree coral belt and one of the greatest competitors in the legendary Gracie family.
At ADCC, Royler lost only 1 time in 15 matches against the top No-Gi competition in the world. He holds an overall ADCC record of 14-1, with 3 titles.
3. Marcelo Garcia
Without a doubt one of the nicest people in BJJ and arguably the GOAT of Jiu Jitsu, is Marcelo Garcia. Marcelo is known for always having a big smile on his face while strangling his opponents.
During his years as a competitor, Marcelo earned 13 championships in major BJJ competitions. 4 of those were ADCC championships, which were arguably the best performances by a competitor in ADCC history.
Watching Marcelo Garcia compete is something else. You'll find him arm dragging competitors more than twice his size, taking their back, and submitting them. He won an impressive 4 titles and 7 medals total at ADCC.
2. Andre Galvao
Coming in at #2 on my list is none other than the reigning ADCC Superfight champ Andre Galvao. The leader of the famed Atos Academy, Andre is one of the most winning grapplers of all time and has dominated No-Gi competitions.
He has 13 world titles under his belt, including a double gold at ADCC 2011 (one of which was the absolute title).
In ADCC, when you win the absolute division, you have to compete in a Superfight with the previous absolute champion. Andre Galvao has won an unprecedented 4 ADCC Superfights. Fans are waiting to see if he's going to attempt to continue his Superfight win streak against Gordon Ryan in 2021.
1. Gordon Ryan
Now some may dispute my pick for #1, but hear me out. At 25 years old, nobody else has done what “The King” Gordon Ryan has in the sport. Ryan has done more in a few years as a professional grappler than 99% of grapplers have done in their career.
He has won 6 No-Gi world championships so far in his career! This includes 3 ADCC wins, 2 of which were double gold in the 99kg and absolute divisions.
In what is the most anticipated No-Gi match of all time, we hope to see Gordon compete in a 2021 ADCC Superfight against fellow No-Gi GOAT Andre Galvao.
Another factor that makes Gordon the best No-Gi grappler of all time is that he is the busiest man in Jiu Jitsu. In an era where there are more BJJ pro grappling shows than ever before, Gordon competes monthly if not weekly.
At his age, with what he has accomplished, you have to consider Gordon Ryan as the greatest of all time. The crazy thing is Gordon might just go ahead and continue winning for another 20 years, setting records that may never be broken!