Ryan Hall is one of the best grapplers in modern MMA, but he knows exactly who he would pick to be the greatest grappler in the history of the sport. He recently sat down with MMAFighting and discussed his feelings about those who cross over from BJJ competition to MMA, and the most successful men to ever make that switch:
“Having success in one sport is difficult enough alone but for those guys to have done what they’ve done across two sports is really amazing. It’s an immense achievement. They’ve paved the way for everyone that’s come after them. I’m a big fan of ‘Jacare’ but Demian Maia, I always felt like a little bit personal connection towards.”
“We were both on Brasa team in the jiu-jitsu world at a period of time. It was cool to see two people in Demian Maia and ‘Jacare’ and B.J. Penn similar thing, going over from the jiu-jitsu world where they were incredibly successful. They could have stayed there and been safe. They could have stayed there and been respected. They could have stayed there no question in my mind but they’re real martial artists and they ventured out for future challenges and bigger challenges. In a world where they didn’t know if they were going to be successful. I’m sure they believed but they could have fallen flat on their face.”
“Demain Maia, in particular, I think he’s the greatest jiu-jitsu player, the greatest grappler in the history of mixed martial arts. Jacare’ has obviously done amazing things as well. Charles Oliveira is a fantastic [grappler], he’s got tons and tons of various skills. But I think Demian is my favorite elite jiu-jitsu to mixed martial arts crossover.”
“I think he’s an example for all of us. He’s a gentleman. A mixed martial artist. A competitor and it’s just someone that I’ve really been privileged to watch his career develop. If I could ever walk in any of his footsteps at any level, I would be very, very grateful to be able to try to do that.”
Ryan Hall gave the interview shortly before the most recent fight of his MMA career against Ilia Topuria at UFC 256, he didn’t manage to show much of his elite grappling skills as he ended up suffering a knockout loss in the very first round.