Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is changing quickly. In a relatively few amount of years it has gone from a tiny niche martial art to one of the most popular martial arts that is practiced around the world. BJJ’s dramatic rise in popularity has increased as a result of exposure through MMA, movies, and celebrity practitioners such as Joe Rogan.
For the first time in the sport BJJ history Jiu Jitsu athletes now have the option of being full time professionals as a result of improved fight salaries. Promotions such as Spyder now offer cash prizes of up to $100K which was previously unheard of in BJJ. Apart from prize money athletes and BJJ practitioners can also earn money through sponsorship, seminars, online courses, academy ownership and affiliation.
In the list below we have taken a look at some of the richest people currently involved in BJJ. Some of these people have built their wealth through Jiu Jitsu activities solely. Others have gained wealth through other ventures and BJJ is now benefiting as a result of their involvement in Jiu Jitsu promotions and organizations.
BJJ Organization Owners
In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there are a couple of organizations that are responsible for running the main competitions and promotions. These organisations run the most prestigious competitions and these events are watched online by millions of people. Competitions like the IBJJF World Championship showcase the top talent in the sport while also providing a platform for hobbyist grapplers and kids to compete in the color belt divisions.
Below is a list of the heads of the most prominent BJJ promotions in the world:
- Carlos Gracie Jr: Master Carlos Gracie Jr is the co-founder of Gracie Barra and is currently the head of the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF). While his net worth is not listed in any public records, Master Carlos is one of the wealthiest figures in BJJ. Gracie Barra is the largest network of BJJ academies in the world, with over 800 Gracie Academies operating in six continents. Meanwhile the IBJJF is the premier governing body for BJJ. The IBJJF are responsible for running many of the most prestigious competitions in BJJ including the World Championships.
Carlos Gracie Jnr
- Sheik Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan (Estimated net worth $1 Billion): Sheik Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the founder of the ADCC World Submission Fighting Championships. Nahyan was born into a wealthy family, and gained a love for BJJ when studying in the US during the 90’s. Sheik Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is also patron of the UAEJJF which is one of the most prominent BJJ federations int he world. ADCC is the biggest grappling championship in the world held every two years with over $200k in prize money given out at each event.
- Sheikh Tarik Bin Faisal (Estimated net worth $2 billion): Faisal Al Qassemi is a member of the ruling family of Sharjah, UAE and is also a prominent businessman and an Investor. He is the current chairman of multiple departments of the UAE government, as well as head of a number of other federations and organisations. When he is not running multi billion dollar businesses, he finds the time to train and compete in some of the top BJJ tournaments in the world. While he does not run a BJJ organization, Faisal is also responsible for helping to set up Team Nogueira Dubai which is one of the most prominent BJJ academies in the Middle East.
- Mo Jassim (Net Worth Unknown): Mo Jassim is currently the head organizer if the ADCC championship. He is from California, but has influential and wealthy family connections in the Arab Emirates. Jassim fell in love with the sport like Sheik Nahyan and began working with the ADCC after finishing school. Eventually he worked his way up to become the head organizer of the ADCC. Jassim has modernized the tournamnet and claims to have invested a large amount of his own money into the project. He claims that he personally lost approx $200 on the 2019 West Coast ADCC trials alone.
BJJ personalities & Academy Owners
BJJ academy owners have gained a lot of wealth since the explosion in the popularity of Jiu Jitsu. In Jiu Jitsu, there are thousands of schools across the world with multiple gyms of the same affiliation located in every city around the world. If you go to any city in the world, you are likely to find a Gracie Barra, Alliance, Atos, Checkmat, or 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu academy there that has hundreds of students. Below is a list of some of the wealthiest and famous owners academy owners in the world and how they gained their wealth.
- Ryron & Rener Gracie (Estimated net worth $5 Million each): Ryron and Rener are sons of Rorion Gracie and current owners of the Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy. Under their leadership, they have helped promote Gracie Jiu Jitsu to a world wide audience. They have a physical academy in Torrance, California but it is their online business that is the most lucrative venture of the brothers. The Gracie Online Academy has a massive subscriber list and is possibly the most popular online BJJ platform in the world.
Rener & Ryron Gracie
- Eddie Bravo (Estimated net worth $1.5 million) Eddie Bravo has turned his unique style of Jiu Jitsu into quite an empire. Today there are many 10th Planet schools across the world and he has taught multiple world champions in MMA/Grappling. Bravo has also created his own BJJ promotion (Eddie Bravo Invitational) and co-hosts a popular podcast called Skeptic Tank.
- Andre Galvao (Estimated net worth $1-5 million) Andre Galvao is one of the best grapplers of all time and has won every major championship in BJJ. Andre is also the owner of one of the biggest and most dominant teams in the world. ATOS HQ is based in San Diego and is home to multiple active world champions including Kaynan Duarte. The gym has affiliates worldwide and the brand continues to grow at a rapid pace.
- Roger Gracie (Estimated net worth $1-5 million) Much like Galvao, Roger Gracie is regularly referred to as the greatest of all time. He has also won every major title in the sport and has also competed at the top level in MMA. Over the years Roger has won a significant amount of prize money and also has revenue streams from seminars and his physical and online academy. Gracie is currently retired from competitive BJJ and focuses his energy teaching at Roger Gracie Academy in London, England. He now has thousands of students and multiple locations throughout the UK.
- Marcelo Garcia (Estimated net worth $1-3 million) Marcelo is another candidate on the the GOAT shortlist. His used his effective style of BJJ to win multiple major championships despite being often out sized by much heavier opponents . In 2006 he set up his own academy which is part owned by Josh Waitzkin. The academy is massively popular and has a number of affiliates. His online platform MGinAction was one of the first online BJJ platforms and still produces a regular income stream for Marcelo.
- Renzo Gracie (Net Worth: $3 Million): Renzo is on the best grapplers/fighters of all time and has also amassed nearly all of his wealth in BJJ. In fighting/grappling, he has competed for over thirty years winning the most prominent championships in the world. After gaining his wealth competing, he has moved towards more of a coaching role training multiple world champions in BJJ and MMA. Today, Renzo earn a lot of his wealth from his Renzo Gracie Academies and instructional books and DVDs he has released. Including his popular instructional book called Mastering Jiu Jitsu.
- Joe Rogan (Estimated net worth $25 million) Joe is not an academy owner but arguably no one has done more to promote Brazilian Jiu Jitsu than him. Joe has a massive online following in his role as a UFC analyst and podcaster. In these roles he regularly praises the benefits of BJJ and encourages people to start training. Joe has gained the majority of his wealth through his media ventures and is estimated to be worth $25 million. Despite his busy schedule he still trains regularly in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and other martial arts.
Top Earning Current BJJ Athletes
While pay in professional grappling is still on the low end compared to other professional sports. Many of the top grapplers in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu compete regularly in multiple tournaments and super fights around the world each year, while also doing seminars and releasing instructional videos. . Below is a list of the current grapplers that are among the highest paid in the sport and an average of how much they are paid.
- Gordon Ryan (Estimated net worth $1-2 million): Gordon Ryan is the current pound for pound best nogi grappler in the world and is a heavyweight/absolute ADCC champion. He is only 24 years old, but has already amassed an impressive collection of wins and cash prizes from competing. When Ryan is not winning tournaments and super fights, he does numerous seminars around the world showing techniques he learned and helped develop with his coach John Danaher. He also has a partnership with BJJ Fanatics and has made a number of instructionals. Gordon is not shy about discussing his income and in 2019 posted a picture of his current account balance that showed it contained $400K+ at the time. He has had sponsors for his No Gi gear (like rash guards) including Hypnotik and Future Kimonos.
Gordon Ryan (photo credit: @maggieleft)
- Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida (Estimated net worth $1 million): Buchecha is another one of this generation’s greatest grapplers and most accomplished. Since 2010, he has won multiple world championships including 2 ADCC titles. He has also won numerous super fights during his career and has indicated that he may will possibly transition to MMA soon.
- Felipe “Preguica” Pena (Estimated net worth $1 million): Preguica Pena is a multiple IBJJF world champion and former ADCC heavyweight champion. Since his first world championship as a brown belt in 2012 this Gracie Barra student has been dominating at top competitions winning grand prize money. It is unknown exactly how much he has made in Jiu Jitsu but he will continue to be one of the top earners in the sport for many years to come. Preguica also owns his own academy in Belo Horizonte.
- Keenan Cornelius (Estimated net worth approx $1 million): Keenan is one of the most recognizable figures in BJJ. His website KeenanOnline.com is one of the most popular databases for online BJJ learning and he has produced a vast amount of content relating to his unique worm and squid guards. Keenan has now opened his own Academy (Legion Academy) in San Diego which is sure to help boost his bank balance even more. His gi sponsor is Hyperfly.