The ADCC (aka the Abu Dhabi Combat Club) is one of the biggest names in BJJ. Few competitions are as prestigious as the ADCC, and it is home to some legendary matches in history. From its many exceptional bouts, we listed down some of the greatest ADCC matches ever.
As passionate as we are about taking part in BJJ, we love to watch grapplers take over the big leagues. Seeing the cream of the crop in each division is not only entertaining but also educational. As observers, we learn what to do and what not to do as grapplers lock horns with victory and defeat. We observe their maneuvers through twists and turns and how they apply what we all practise on the mat.
It doesn’t matter whether you train to fight in the ring or learn self-defence. Hopefully, you enjoy watching these fights as much as we do! You can find inspiration in each legendary grappler that made history in the world of BJJ.
Here’s our take on the six greatest ADCC matches and highlight all the reasons that make them great — and why we love them!
What is the ADCC Submission Fighting World ChampionshipThe ADCC (a.k.a. Abu Dhabi Combat Club) is the most prestigious tournament in the grappling competition. Grapplers from all over the world compete at an exclusive no-gi event.The majority of the winners are BJJ practitioners. However, the competition is open to other grappling disciplines too. These disciplines include freestyle wrestling, sambo and luta livre.
Notable past winners
Many legendary submission wrestlers have graced the mats at ADCC. A lot of them even took part in the some of the greatest ADCC matches ever. We’ve done our best to bring to light five grapplers who’ve left their mark.
It hasn’t been easy by any means to select the greatest ADCC matches of all time, but we’ve given it a good go!
1 Marcelo Garcia
Garcia has won both the IBJJF (a.k.a. International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) and ADCC Championship many times. He is a GOAT of the BJJ world. Although no longer competing, he still is very much involved in BJJ. Garcia has opened several gyms during and after his competing years. Notably, his Manhattan BJJ school is becoming world-famous.
2 Mark KerrKerr is one of the few winners of the ADCC championship who surprisingly wasn’t a BJJ practitioner. He won both the ADCC championship and UFC twice, with his freestyle wrestling playing a big part.We can confidently say that Kerr is one of the greatest submission wrestlers of all time!
3 Roger Gracie
No list of notable BJJ winners would be complete without at least one Gracie on the list. Roger Gracie won the not just the ADCC championship twice, but the IBJJF championship an astounding ten times! Thus, this article cannot proceed without a mention of him. He is a technically brilliant practitioner, his frame at 6 ft 4 215 lbs is also a serious problem. Gracie hasn’t lost a match by submission since he was a blue belt.
4 Gordon RyanRyan began his journey in BJJ when he was 15. He has won many important world championships. Among his victories is three separate occasions of the ADCC World Championship! Ryan is arguably one of the best no-gi BJJ fighters of all time.
5 Saulo Ribeiro
Ribeiro began his journey into martial arts with Judo. He gained a black belt before beginning his BJJ education. Ribeiro then went on to win the ADCC championship twice. He also won several times in other anticipated championships. One of these wins is the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship. His five wins in the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship is in four different weight classes!
Memorable MatchesThanks to the wonders of technology, we are able to re-live some of the greatest ADCC matches. The timelessness of a truly exciting match evident in our collection. Some of these bouts are 20+ years old! The ADCC Submission Wrestling Championship is a gift that just keeps on giving.
1 Eddie Bravo vs Royler Gracie
Eddie Bravo vs Royler GracieArguably THE king of all the greatest ADCC matches. Just as much for the technique as it was shock value.The Gracie family brought Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to the world. They also dominated BJJ competitions throughout the years. Their dominance was so powerful that the mere idea of them losing was unthought of. This was why it was such a shock when Eddie Bravo submitted Royler Gracie via triangle choke. Bravo later branched out to start his own BJJ schools, the 10th Planet.There is no question about it. Royler was causing Eddie all sorts of problems. Yet, Bravo was able to stay composed. He waited for an opportunity to finish the job. When it surfaced, he gave it his all to succeed. This was a beautiful reminder that everyone, even a Gracie, is beatable. Famous and noteworthy people are all humans.The loss was a bitter pill for Royler to swallow. Yet, it served as an important reminder.Don’t be complacent, even when you’re chaining together dominant positions. The fight isn’t over till it’s over.Against crafty technicians like Bravo, you’ve always got to be alert and to expect trouble.
2 Marcelo Garcia vs Rico RodriguesThis match demonstrates the effectiveness of BJJ when fighting a larger opponent. Garcia had quite the challenge facing Rodrigues, who was considerably bigger than him. There are concepts in BJJ that isn’t in Boxing and MMA. These are the divisions called ‘Absolute’ or ‘Open-weight’. In these divisions, there is no weight limit for the participants.This is what led Garcia and Rodrigues to clash at the ADCC championship in 2005. Garcia was able to defeat Rodrguez via a leglock even though he was illegally slammed. He won despite breaking a rib!
3 David Terrell vs Ricardo AlmeidaAside from this being an enjoyable spectacle, this bout left lessons on its audience. First, the importance and effectiveness of chaining together techniques. This is especially important in no-gi BJJ, as the pace is often faster than gi BJJ. David Terrell demonstrated this when he went from a single leg to a leglock in quick succession. He gained victory over his opponent.But, it also teaches how to know when you’re caught in ‘checkmate’. Almeida was aware that he had no chance to escape. He then tapped. This shows the importance of knowing when to continue fighting and to surrender. Unfortunately, he didn’t tap quick enough not to sustain a leg injury. This is a reminder that although BJJ is fun, the risks are very real.
4 Jean Jacques Machado vs Ricardo AronaJean Jacques Machado is a legend in the sport of BJJ. Despite his disability, he has built a reputation for his technical ability. He was born without the majority of the digits on his left hand. Still, this didn’t stop Machado from becoming a master in BJJ.This bout demonstrates how impressive Machado was. He stood out even against someone as powerful and technical as Arona. The match ended in a victory for Arona, but the fight that Machado put up was nothing short of legendary. Both offensively and defensively, he demonstrated that he was a force to be reckoned with.
5 Kron Gracie vs Gary TononThere is great pressure that comes with being a Gracie. Kron had the luxury of learning BJJ from a young age among some of the best to do it (including his father, Rickson). However, with it came the pressure to win. It was when he fought Gary Tonon (considered to be one the greatest to ever do it) that he had to dig deep. With only a few seconds left, in such a competitive bout, he was able to pull off a rear-naked choke! In doing so, he lived up to the Gracie name in front of both his father and the world.This performance reminds BJJ enthusiasts to remain calm under pressure. It is a reminder to never give up and to master oneself. This is as important as learning the art of BJJ.
6 Leo Vieria vs Mark KerrThis match gives us another look at how effective BJJ can be against bigger opponent. To avoid getting caught in an unrecoverable position, Vieria incorporated a light-footed approach.Yet, the size advantage matched with a high skill level proved too much for Vieria to overcome. Kerr won the competition. Vieria most certainly put up a good fight. He showed the kind of attitude you need if you are to take on the challenge of battling a bigger opponent.
7 Gordon Ryan vs Andre Galvao
After calling out the BJJ legend Andre Galvao to defend his title, Gordon Ryan finally gets the match he is looking for. Two absolute monsters collide in the historic ADCC 2022 Superfight as Andre Galvao defends his title against the equally-decorated Gordon Ryan.
This match was a rivalry of the ages, with a lot of beef in the background. Now, once and for all, we finally have the answer to the question of who the true king of grappling is.
While Galvao may be the first to execute a takedown, it seems Ryan was in control from the get-go. Ryan racked up a 12-0 point advantage as he hunted for Galvao’s neck. Once he got it, he sunk it, with Galvao ultimately tapping out due to a rear naked choke. This gives us the answer—Gordon Ryan is the dominant fighter.
Gordon Ryan submits Andre Galvao in the superfight!!!
— MMA mania (@mmamania) September 19, 2022
ADCC Video Archive
Have we stirred up the hunger for more BJJ content? Don’t worry, it’s to be expected! You can find more great content in the ADCC official website.
BJJ isn’t just used in BJJ competitions! Pride, a fighting organisation that has taken on a legendary status in the MMA community was home to some of the best submissions. Check them out here!
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