This past weekend’s ADCC has a lot of us thinking about the top grapplers in the world, no doubt. This list will consider some of the best American grapplers of all time. I’m talking strictly no-gi here- reflecting on Abu Dhabi, but taking all tournaments into consideration, especially IBJJF’s no-gi worlds. Don’t like my list? Make a comment below!
1. Dean Lister I think any such list has to include (if not begin with) Dean Lister. Not only was Dean the 2003 absolute champion and 2005 superfight winner, but he surprised everyone by breaking any legs in his way this year at ADCC (including Rodolfo and Joao Assis).
2. Jeff Monson Monson won ADCC in 1999 and 2005, took silver in 2000 and 2001, and bronze in 2009. Holy crap! He also went on an undefeated tear in tournaments in the US in the mid 2000s that included ADCC (yes, it was in the US that year), the Bud Cup, Grapplers Quest and some other local tourneys. Monson was practially unbeatable for a few years. He even won the IBJJF no-gi worlds at black belt.
3. Mark Kerr If Monson was the immovable object, “The Smashing Machine” was like the Juggernaut on steroids. Literally. He was a comic book character on Vitamin S. Kerr won the 1999 and 2000 ADCC, and added the open class victory to his resume as well in 2000, landing him the superfight against Mario Sperry in 2001. Kerr won. Kerr faded into obscurity in 2003, after losing to Arona in the ADCC superfight (and being featured in “The Smashing Machine”, a very sad movie about his decline), but he remains one of the top American grapplers of all time.
4. Jeff Glover Perhaps Glover’s biggest accomplishment- on paper- was winning the 2007 IBJJF worlds at black belt. He also took home a bronze medal at ADCC this year (2011), submitting a very experienced and savvy Robson Moura (one of the greatest gi grapplers of all time). Glover is more of a people’s champion, though, having literally dozens of local tournament titles, including more than 20 Grapplers Quest titles to his name. Glover continues to be very active in competition, and will probably add several more titles to his resume.
5. Rafael Lovato, Jr Lovato is easily the most accomplished American gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitor of all time. Alas, this is strictly a no-gi list. However, Jr cemented his position in 2010 by winning the IBJJF no-gi worlds at black belt, and then won the Abu Dhabi Pro No-gi Worlds in 2011 (not to be confused with ADCC, but still a legitimate no-gi win at black belt). Lovato also racked up two Bud Cup pro wins, along with 2 Grapplers Quest pro titles.