It’s been 30 years since mixed martial arts came to the forefront of American sports culture with the launch of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, more commonly known as UFC. The promotion has allowed mixed martial arts to become highly popular and among the most-watched sports on the planet. With that mixed martial arts forms of all kinds have become more popular or have regained popularity over the last 30 years, including that of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Notably, the beginnings of the UFC date back to the Brazilian jiu-jitsu students of Grand Master Rorion Gracie and a series of videos he produced that featured his students using jiu-jitsu to defeat martial artists who were fighting using other martial art disciplines. Southern California businessman Art Davie saw these videos and believed there was a sport to be grown from those videos. He then proposed to Gracie as well as filmmaker John Millius, who helped develop Gracie’s videos, a single-elimination tournament that featured fighters of various martial art disciplines. Over time, the tournament and idea overall would eventually evolve into the UFC that we know today, however, the original ideas of the promotion have ties to Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
That being said, despite its origins lying in jiu-jitsu, the style over the last 30 years has gone through falls and rises as a popular form of mixed martial arts. As a defense-based martial art, it’s not the most popular choice of fighters and fans prefer more aggressive forms of martial arts for their favorite fighters.
The Growth of Jiu-Jitsu
Jiu-jitsu is growing in popularity with gyms and schools popping up across the country. The growth of the martial art form also shouldn’t be terribly shocking. With the UFC’s launch 30 years ago, it has provided ample time for those who grew up watching the sport and their children as well to develop an interest in training in various martial art forms. As more time goes on, it’s likely generations to come will continue to show interest in the martial art form and help either continue to grow in popularity or become rather stable from a popularity standpoint.
It’s also a martial form that is widely appealing to people no matter where they may live as gyms and schools have popped up in suburbs, rural areas, as well as the inner city. In the inner cities, such as in Boston, Chicago, and New York, gyms and jiu-jitsu schools allow inner-city kids an opportunity to learn martial arts while also keeping them safe from the various risks of living in inner cities. The city of Boston alone has over 20 gyms and schools within the general metropolitan area for locals to train at. But Boston is not the only major city that has seen the growth of the sport within its cities, other cities include Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Nashville among others.
How Do Jiu-Jitsu Fighters Make Money Before Going Pro?
Most Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighters early in their career balance their daily lives and jobs along with their training. As they rise up the rankings, they will take part in tournaments and fight cards that allow them to fight for prize money. As they get better and their name begins to be known across the sport, they will also add sponsorships which allow for another form of income.
For most professional fighters it takes years of hard work, perseverance, and sacrifice to get to where they are in their career. The prize money and sponsorship money early in their careers often isn’t high but allows them to continue to pay for their gym and training.
A Generation of Stars Helped Grow The Popularity of Jiu-Jitsu.
Another major reason that the martial art form is gaining popularity is thanks to a potential golden generation of stars that have helped its cause. Those fighters are Danielle Kelly, Gordon Ryan, Mikey Musumei, Kade, and Tye Ruotolo.
Danielle Kelly, who is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt from Philadelphia is one of the rising stars of the women’s circuit with a career record of 19-9-1 including 14 wins by submission. She has competed both in UFC and One and has been highly successful in both. She has won three of her last four matches including against Japanese fighter Ayaka Miura in a unanimous decision on Feb. 24, 2023, as part of ONE Fight Night 7.
Another fighter not too far from Kelly is Gordon Ryan. The 27-year old out of Monroe Township, New Jersey is one of the most decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighters of the modern era, not having won over 60 gold medals or top prizes but has also collected a career record of 153-9-3. He is simply nearly unbeatable and hasn’t lost a fight since May 4, 2018, winning each of his 53 fights. Overall, he’s considered one of the greatest jiu-jitsu fighters of all time. 26-year-old Mikey Musumeci is another top fighter out of New Jersey currently signed to ONE Championship. Fighting since 2017, Musumeci doesn’t fight as often as others but during his five-year career has collected a 19-3 record and has won each of his last six fights dating back to Oct. 20, 2021.
Finally, the future of the sport may live within the brothers of Tye and Kade Ruotolo out of Hawaii. The twin brothers are only 20 years old but have been fighting since the age of three and have quickly risen to the top of the Brazilian jiu-jitsu world. Both brothers have already won championships in their careers and with a long career ahead of them, could become some of the most decorated jiu-jitsu fighters of the modern era.
As jiu-jitsu continues to grow, so is the likelihood of seeing dream matchups in both UFC and ONE. Massachusetts promo codes will be a good resource if you’re looking to get in on the action for one of the mega matches as they are sure to have odds.
Overall, with these fighters and others, the future of jiu-jitsu is incredibly bright. It is an extremely viable form of martial arts from a competitive standpoint and many have proven that you could win in major promotions using jiu-jitsu. As mentioned above, as time goes on, it will only continue to grow in popularity most likely as UFC is projected to remain one of the most popular sports as well.