Best Grapplers In The UFC

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On this week’s Top Turtle Podcast, Gumby Vreeland and David Tramonte debated who was the best complete grappler in every UFC division. 

Combining wrestling abilities with submission skills, and ground and pound led to some hot debates in some of the divisions. Below is a sampling of the winners (loosely labeled either the “Georges” or the “Ricksons”) - if you’d like to hear more, listen below (starts at 23:30).

Bantamweight - Aljamain Sterling

Some level of debate to this pick included the fact that there is an Olympic gold medal wrestler at the top of this division. However, when painting a picture of a complete grappler, it’s tough to pick someone who has never picked up a submission in their life. Sterling on the other hand, not only has outstanding and creative submission skills, but he also has pretty solid wrestling to go along with it. That duality put him above Cejudo in the hosts’ eyes. 

Heavyweight - Aleksei Oleinik

In this case, we may have considered Daniel Cormier to be retired or not in heavyweight long enough to count, but even if he was there, you have to be impressed with the submission skills of Oleinik. We often laud fighters who have a submission specialty and maybe double-digit submissions. The 42-year old Russian meanwhile has 46 submissions. This includes some of the craziest the UFC has ever seen. Pair that with a more than adequate top game and he’s a solid pick. 

Welterweight - Demian Maia

Okay, this one seems a little obvious, but it’s a much harder debate when you consider the level of wrestlers in this division. Maia’s ground game never came into play against Tyron Woodley, Colby Covington, or Kamaru Usman. However, we want you to think about what if it did. It certainly did the trick against wrestler Ben Askren, could it have against the top of the division? Is the gap between his jiu jitsu prowess more than the gap in the wrestling skills? When you weigh all the factors, this just may be the hardest division to decide on. 

Make sure to listen in to all of our picks and send all you picks and hate mail to our Twitter (@TopTurtleMMA).

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