Whether it’s advertising a fight, blockbuster films, news segments or a grappling event, there’s only one thing guaranteed to get people emotionally invested; and that’s a story.
And nothing tells a story like good old fashion rivalry.
If you hear that Joe Blow and Pete Everyman are competing soon, you’d probably think: “Meh, so what?” However, when a match up has been announced between two evenly skilled competitors, with a backstory to rival any character from the Marvel Universe, you know you’ve got an absolute cracker on your hands.
Today’s article features 4 of the most action packed rivalries in the history of nogi Jiu jitsu: driving pay-per-view sales, drama and moments that have influenced the sport for good.
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4 of the Best and Most Controversial Rivalries in Nogi History
1. Dillon Danis vs. The Danaher Death Squad
(Image sourced from BJJE)
The most recent and pubic rivalry in Jiu Jitsu today spans multiple channels of communication, as beef between the ex Marcelo Garcia dream team member, Dillon Danis, and the Danaher Death Squad featured on TV, magazines and all forms of social media.
It’s really hard to state where this rivalry started, as Danis has beef with so many of the DDS that it borders on being ridiculous. He has been famously seen arguing in person and online with famous competitors such as:
- Garry Tonon
- Jake Shields
- Gordon Ryan
- Tom De Blass
While both sides have voiced their disdain for each other online, when it comes to the actual event of competition, both sides have shown a lot of respect for the other’s technique and game.
Apart from that famous “hold me back bro” near physical altercation between Danis and members of the DDS at the ADCC trials back in 2016, most of the dislike between both parties has been conducted online and given birth to some of the most entertaining Instagram sledges and mock accounts.
2. Royler Gracie vs. Eddie Bravo
(Image source from Metamoris)
May 17, 2003, will forever go down in history as a major turning point in BJJ with Eddie Bravo’s now legendary victory over Royler Gracie.
Why was this victory so special? Bravo entered the match as an unknown brown belt and exited as a man who did the impossible and submitted a legend of the sport.
Not only did his win give hope to a generation of up and coming competitors, signifying that anything is possible, it also ignited controversy and a disdain against Bravo and his new style of Jiu Jitsu, as it was his victory over Royler that attracted students to Bravo’s 10th Planet Academy: many thought he disrespected the Gracie name by doing so.
11 years later, Gracie would have his chance to avenge his loss, and prove once and for all that Bravo’s win had been an instance or pure luck.
However, after 20 minutes of knee reaping, groin destroying, cringe worthy hell at the hand of Bravo’s electric chair and vaporizer techniques, the match was declared a draw and cemented as one of the significant rematches in BJJ history.
However, while it seems Royler and Eddie had finished the match as men, it was Royler’s brother Royce who took it upon himself to be the child (yep, I said it), chasing down Bravo in the change rooms looking to further the fight; and the controversy.
Let it go, bro. Just let it go.
3. Rubens Charles “Cobrinha” vs. Rafael Mendes
(Image sourced from GracieMag)
Any self-respecting fan of BJJ well knows this classic clash of modern technique, strategy and passion between two mighty figureheads of the sport.
Technically, this rivalry can’t be classed as a strictly nogi affair, as these two legends of the sport have been duelling it out in both gi and nogi events for the better part of the last decade.
When these competitors enter a tournament, it’s usually a guarantee to see them facing off in the finals, after dispensing with other would be contenders with ease.
While the pair have faced off many, many times in the past, from a spectators point of view, none have been more exciting than their classic clashes at ADCC events.
According to BJJ Heroes, their ADCC rivalry record currently stands at:
- Rafa winning in – 2009 & 2011
- Cobrinha winning in - 2013
4. The People vs. AJ Agazarm
(Image sourced from BloodyElbow)
There are two types of people on this earth:
- Those who train at Gracie Barra, and
- Those who dislike AJ Agazarm
It seems old AJ is not only a black belt in the art strangling people, he’s also a black belt in rubbing people the wrong way, as many, actually all, of his recent matches have sparked heated controversy and disdain for this well known competitor.
Recently, AJ was relentlessly harassed by spectators at Polaris 5, who didn’t hold back their alcohol fuelled sledges, and even threw objects at AJ during the post match interview.
But don’t take our word for it, check out what a few of his fellow competitors had to say:
“Because to his core, as a person, he is truly horrible. One of the few people on Earth I’m confident the world would be better without.”
“...but, the only way I see myself dying is from heart attack after I win the fight during the victory sex I have with your girlfriend.”
-Also Garry Tonon
“If I were you [AJ Agazarm], I’d put your skydiving qualification to good use and get out of that plane before its finished crossing the Atlantic.”
- Dan Strauss
“This guy was talking crap the whole time, gouging my eyes… He was bragging yesterday, ‘I’m gonna try and make it a draw, I’m gonna try and make it a draw. I know I can’t beat you, but if I can make it a draw, I’m gonna consider that a win,’ Well, congratulations AJ, you’re a bitch. How does it feel to be a pussy and get your draw?”