The 9 Best Female BJJ Fighters You Need to Know

In the colorful history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, there has emerged a remarkable lineage of talented male and female athletes. Their stories were filled with courage, determination, and an unwavering belief in the power of skill over sheer strength.

Top female BJJ fighters include Kyra Gracie, Mackenzie Dern, Gabi Garcia, Leticia Ribeiro, and Beatriz Mesquita.

This article delves into the incredible journey of some of the greatest female Brazilian jiu-jitsu athletes who have left an indelible mark on the sport.

What Are The Best Female BJJ Fighters?

Many outstanding female BJJ fighters have excelled in the top competitions. The following are the top nine women jiu-jitsu combatants of all time.

Kyra Gracie

Kyra Gracie is a member of the renowned Gracie family and an ADCC Hall of Famer. Kyra’s unwavering determination in the face of opposition shaped her into a highly accomplished competitor.

Multiple ADCC and IBJJF World Championships adorn Kyra’s remarkable career, solidifying her status as one of the sport’s legends.

Mackenzie Dern

Emerged as one of the most gifted female grapplers of her generation, Mackenzie Dern is a true BJJ and MMA legend.

At the age of 3, Mackenzie’s father, Wellington “Megaton” Dias, and stepmother, Luciana Dias, both renowned black belts, led her on her journey. Under their tutelage, Mackenzie’s skills blossomed, and at the age of 19, she received her black belt.

Mackenzie’s competitive achievements were nothing short of remarkable. She achieved the pinnacle of success by winning world championships at all belt levels, an extraordinary feat accomplished by only a select few.

Her dominance extended to the highest levels of competition, as she secured gold in five of the most prestigious IBJJF gi tournaments.

Mackenzie’s transition to MMA further showcased her versatility and tenacity, as she now stands among the warriors of the UFC. She is representing the legacy of female BJJ athletes.

Gabi Garcia

A legendary figure renowned for her imposing stature and dominant presence, Gabi Garcia is a shunning name in the jiu-jitsu community.

Gabi’s physicality and skill have established her as a force to be reckoned with in the over 151-pound division.

She has triumphed in prestigious grappling tournaments such as the ADCC and IBJJF World Championships, leaving a lasting impression on the sport’s landscape.

Leticia Ribeiro

Leticia Ribeiro, a BJJ Hall of Famer, emerges as a central figure in the narrative of female BJJ athletes.

As a nine-time world champion in gi and no-gi, Leticia’s impact on the sport is immeasurable. Guiding the formidable talents of Mackenzie Dern and Beatriz Mesquita, she stands at the helm of the renowned Gracie Humaita team.

Leticia’s expertise, skill, and leadership have not only elevated the athletes she trains but have also paved the way for the continued growth and recognition of women in BJJ.

Beatriz Mesquita

Beatriz Mesquita is widely hailed as one of the greatest female grapplers to ever step on the mats. Trained by the influential Leticia Ribeiro, Bia chose BJJ as her sole focus, forsaking Judo, swimming, and wrestling in her pursuit of greatness.

Bia is one of the most dedicated and talented female BJJ competitors. She is a nine-time World Champion, World NoGi Champion, six-time Pan Champion, European Champion, and two-time Brasileiro Champion, in addition to the prestigious ADCC.

Mesquita’s name became synonymous with success, and her legacy serves as an inspiration to aspiring female athletes all over the world.

Luiza Monteiro

Among the luminaries of the female division, Luiza Monteiro stands as a top-tier athlete. She demonstrated a well-rounded game in both gi and no-gi competitions.

Luiza has earned numerous victories in large-scale tournaments sanctioned by the IBJJF and other esteemed organizations.

From featherweight to medium-heavyweight, Luiza has showcased her versatility and skill, securing five IBJJF World Championships along the way.

Yvone Duarte

A trailblazing woman who embarked on her BJJ journey at the tender age of 15, Yvone Duarte is a true inspiration for all women fighters.

Yvone’s training began under the watchful guidance of her brother, Pascoal Duarte, who himself would become a coral belt.

Fueled by an unrelenting passion for the art, Yvone tirelessly trained and determined to showcase the immense potential of women in this male-dominated sport.

Yvone’s dedication did not stop at personal achievement. Realizing the need for a female division in BJJ, she fearlessly sought to rally others around her cause.

Her infectious enthusiasm and persuasive arguments led to the establishment of female divisions in Rio de Janeiro, opening doors for countless women to join the sport.

Yvone’s competitive prowess was awe-inspiring as she remained undefeated for over a decade, an unprecedented feat for any athlete, male or female, during the 1980s.

But Yvone’s influence extended far beyond the realm of competition. Her efforts in organizing and promoting BJJ laid a foundation for future generations to thrive.

In August 2021, Yvone achieved another milestone, becoming the first female coral belt in BJJ, solidifying her legacy as an extraordinary figure in the sport.

Michelle Nicolini

A black belt under the esteemed Robert Drysdale, Michelle Nicolini is a true inspiration for all female warriors.

Michelle’s presence in the competition scene is legendary, having claimed the IBJJF World Championships eight times and securing the No-Gi World Championships twice.

Otherwise, Nicolini’s audacious decision to compete for four divisions above her regular weight class in 2010 became a defining moment in her career.

From that point forward, she continued to accumulate victories, leaving an indelible mark on the history of female BJJ.

Hannette Staack

Hannette Staack is a female protagonist who embarked on her BJJ journey at the age of 18.

Though starting later than her peers, Hannette’s hidden talents and unyielding spirit propelled her to become a highly successful grappler.

Known for her technical finesse and fearlessness in competing against the best in the world, Hannette claimed six world championships and emerged as a double gold medalist in the prestigious ADCC 2007, showcasing her incredible prowess.

What Does It Take to Become a Great BJJ Women Fighter?

Becoming a top-notch female Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter takes more than just strong muscles or physical prowess.

It’s a mix of physical, mental, and emotional aspects that need to be worked on over time. Consistency, dedication, and resilience mark the journey toward greatness. Here’s what it takes:

  • Mastery of BJJ Techniques: An aspiring BJJ fighter must learn and master the core jiu-jitsu techniques. These include guard positions, submission holds, escapes, and sweeps. As one progresses, more intricate techniques and combinations come into play.
  • Physical Fitness: BJJ requires a high level of fitness. Strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance are essential. To improve these areas, women can do strength and conditioning exercises, along with BJJ training.
  • Tactical Acumen: BJJ is like chess because it’s a game of strategy. A good BJJ fighter always has her opponent’s number, knowing when to attack, when to defend, and how to set traps.
  • Adaptability: No two opponents or matches are alike. Highly skilled female BJJ competitors hold the ability to adjust their tactics at the moment, responding to any difficulty imposed by their adversaries.
  • Resilience: In BJJ, it doesn’t matter how many times you fall. What matters is how many times you get back up. The great ones can learn from their defeats and improve.
  • Discipline and Dedication: Becoming a good BJJ practitioner takes time and dedication. It can take years to reach the black belt level. This journey requires sacrifice, discipline, and dedication to the art.
  • Mindset: A great BJJ fighter is respectful and gracious in victory and defeat. They understand that everyone has something to teach, even if they’re high-level fighters.


These remarkable women, along with countless others, have etched their names in the annals of BJJ history.

They have proven that gender is no barrier to success, that skill can overcome size, and that dedication can shape the course of a sport.

Their stories serve as a testament to the limitless potential of the human spirit and inspire generations to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Makes a Great BJJ Fighter?

  • Skills and Abilities: A great BJJ fighter is excellent at grappling, plays a smart game, and has lots of endurance. Using their opponent’s strength against them is a sign of BJJ mastery.
  • Mindset and Dedication: Having the right attitude and determination is essential. These combatants devote countless hours to working on their abilities, persistently aiming to perfect their talent.

Who Are Some of the Most Accomplished Female BJJ Fighters?

Notable female Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners include Kyra Gracie, Michelle Nicolini, Beatriz Mesquita, Mackenzie Dern, and Gabi Garcia.

Are There Emerging Female BJJ Fighters to Watch Out for?

Nathiely De Jesus and Ffion Davies are leaving their indelible imprint on the BJJ world as they ascend to the top of the competitive ranks.

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