I'm assuming that you are basing this strictly on MMA performances. I suppose that's fine, but there are a lot of guys that are around the same level as these guys in terms of applying BJJ in MMA competition. Seems fine, to me, to compare a guy like Maia to a guy like Nogueira in terms of MMA performances, but for me style plays a major role, as does technical ability.
Originally Posted by Squirrelfighter
I don't follow non-MMA grappling so in that area I don't really know.
But in MMA I have look at who's got the credentials, and who's applied their grappling the best in MMA. The two that come to mind are Damien Maia and Jacare Souza. Shields comes to mind as well, I'd rank him up with those two if he'd completed a takedown on GSP, but since he failed I can't give him that much of nod. BJ Penn also comes to mind as an elite grappler in MMA.
I end up thinking that, in terms of technical ability on the ground, watching a Jeff Monson or a Fabricio Werdum is a lot more impressive than Shields or B.J. Not that those guys aren't great, but I don't see the same level of technical precision.
I'm curious about where you're getting that statistic, because I'm fairly sure they've competed more than three times, between gi and no-gi competition.
I would give the edge to Maia in that in BJJ competitions he's beaten Souza 2-1 and he's shown better MMA grappling in his career overall. BJ Penn would be a close third though.
Did you watch the Melendez fight?
For me it's clearly Shinya Aoki by far!
I have never seen anything which makes me believe that he is not the best pure grappler out there.
Really? There are plenty of other guys who have dominant records on the mat. Monson, Werdum and Arona have all beaten world class grapplers multiple times, something which can't be said for Aoki.
His resume speaks for himself too! No other grappler in the MMA world has a more impressive record than he does.
The best grappler he fought (Sotiropoulos) he beat by DQ. Compared to someone like Monson, who dominated Ricco Rodriguez, Mark Kerr, Anthony Perosh and Pe De Pano (all former ADCC competitors, all world class pure grapplers), I find Aoki a lot less impressive.
He hasn't beaten any of the champs in his weightclass. He beat Joachim Hansen twice and Eddie Alvarez. Those guys are not slouches, at all, but they were not running the weightclass at the time. The #1 spot at lightweight has never definitively belonged to Aoki, and that conversation can't even be worth having until Aoki beats one of the UFC champions (either at 145 or 155, depending on whether he can make the cut to featherweight at all) and beats Melendez. Both seem unlikely.
He's beaten every Champ there is, with just one exception and all this with his amazing abilitys on the ground only.