Although it’s one of the most efficient ways to win fights, grappling doesn’t get as much love as striking in MMA. That’s primarily because striking is a more violent discipline compared to grappling, and people absolutely love seeing fighters getting punched in the face and falling flat onto the canvas. But that doesn’t mean grappling contests aren’t as exciting. Let’s take a look at the top five grapplers in the UFC.
UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman is a hulking specimen of a man. He isn’t a submission specialist, but when Usman gets a hold of his opponents, it’s a different level of dominance altogether. ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ records over 97 percent control time on the ground, second only to Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is only slightly ahead.
— UFC (@ufc) February 14, 2021
Usman averages 3.38 takedowns per 15 minutes, but what sets him apart is the fact that nobody has been able to take him down. His sheer strength and pace have helped him conquer one top welterweight after another, and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to stop anytime soon. Usman is the most decorated out of the top five grapplers in the UFC.
When Khabib announced his retirement, lightweights must have had a sigh of relief. But with Islam Makhachev putting on a grappling masterclass against Drew Dober at UFC 259, the division will have to worry about another Dagestani phenom ready to take what he believes belongs to him.
THE REAL DEAL!
🇷🇺 @MakhachevMMA displayed why he has top five potential.
— UFC (@ufc) March 7, 2021
Like his cousin-brother, Makhachev is a world champion in Sambo. The way he has handled fellow grapplers like Arman Tsarukyan and Nik Lentz is a showcase of his wrestling pedigree. Like Usman, he also averages over three takedowns per 15 minutes, but he’s got the upper hand when it comes to submission victories, a total of eight. Makhachev is the most promising out of the top five grapplers in the UFC.
At 29 years old, Makhachev is still a couple of years away from his prime, but he’s already a scary fighter.
Makhachev might think he’s the best grappler in the lightweight division, but Charles Oliveira begs to differ. The BJJ phenom could potentially be the new UFC lightweight kingpin in a couple of months, as he is set to face Michael Chandler at UFC 262.
Your new contender at 155!
— UFC (@ufc) December 13, 2020
Oliveira is a submission artist. He’s got 19 submission wins to his name, and the way he made Tony Ferguson look like an amateur on the mat in his most recent fight at UFC 256 speaks volumes.
The Brazilian has been adding wrestling skills to his grappling arsenal too in recent years, and is an extremely well-rounded grappler.
MacKenzie Dern is arguably the most decorated female grappler in the UFC. She has a gold-studded resume in the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is now looking to add some UFC gold to her trophy cabinet.
You can't do that with @MackenzieDern!
— UFC (@ufc) December 7, 2020
Dern is far from being a solid striker and is still developing her MMA game, but when she takes the fight to the ground, she’s a different fighter altogether. Three of her five wins in the UFC have come by the way of first-round submissions. Overall, she has six career wins by the way of submission.
She’s gradually getting better in the other aspects of MMA as well, and she’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the near future.
Tatiana Suarez is otherwise known as the ‘Female Khabib’, which is because of the stylistic similarities between the two fighters. From rag dolling opponents and smashing them to staying undefeated, Tatiana and Khabib have a lot in common. Interestingly, she’s also been wrestling since she was a child, like ‘The Eagle’.
Is Tatiana Suarez the Khabib Nurmagomedov of the Women's Strawweight division? pic.twitter.com/yzZcCXqNCZ
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) May 20, 2018
Suarez is a phenomenal wrestler. She was the number three ranked strawweight in 2019, but was removed from the rankings due to inactivity because of injury. She’s technically still number three in the world, and should she return to the Octagon this year, she’ll certainly fight a big name, before eventually fighting for the title.
The Mexican-American is a two-time BJJ world champion, and is a fearsome fighter inside the Octagon.
Who do you think is the best among the top five grapplers in the UFC mentioned in this article?
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