The following list is not in any particular order and is it based on current activity. So for example, there may be a competitor that is better than some of the following mentioned athletes, but if they have not been particularly active in major no-gi tournaments in the last two years, then they were omitted.
Andre Galvao is one of the most popular names in BJJ today. He has been a top competitor since his days as a purple belt and now he has won major titles in both gi and no-gi. However, for him to earn a spot on this list, he has dominated at the last two ADCC competitions. In 2011 he had won both his division and absolute, and then in 2013, as the current absolute champion, he had the chance to face the current superfight champion, Braulio Estima. They had faced each other many times before, and this time Galvao had come up on top and is now the current ADCC superfight champion. He will most likely face Cyborg Abreu in 2015 at the next ADCC – a very exciting match.
Although Caio Terra has been known for his performance in the gi, many don’t realize that he is more accomplished in no-gi. He is has won the world title in no-gi six years consecutively, from 2008 until 2013, in the rooster weight division. This continual domination solidifies him a spot on this list. Unfortunately, he has not competed in the ADCC tournaments, probably because they do not have a category for his size, but it would be a pleasure to watch him against larger opponents regardless. Hopefully one day he can reconsider.
Justin Rader is one of the three Americans on this list. A black belt under the legend, Rafael Lovato Jr., Justin has been able to conquer two world no-gi titles, in 2010 and 2013, and the bronze medal at the 2013 ADCC only losing to phenoms Cobrinha and Rafael Mendes. He defeated the tricky Joao Miyao to win his bronze medal. Hopefully we can continue to see more from Rader as time goes on, but he has definitely become one of the American greats.
Another American on the list, JT had made the move to Atos from Lloyd Irvin in the last year and he is already feeling the impact of his training with the juggernaut jiu-jitsu team. JT has earned a spot on this list because of his win at the 2013 no-gi world championships and his performance at the 2013 ADCC where he won bronze. Although JT had won his place because his opponent Leo Vieira was injured, we can’t take anything away from his dominating performance this year. Hopefully, along with Justin Rader, he can continue to give American jiu-jitsu a strong presence in the sport.
Lovato is one of the original American legends in BJJ. One of the few Americans to win a world championship in the gi along with BJ Penn, Lovato has also proved himself to be just as good in no-gi, if not better. This year, Lovato won silver in the ADCC, losing to Romulo Barral. However, he is also the 2013 no-gi world champion, already his second world title because of his win in 2010. The greatest thing about Lovato is that he is also producing new American world champions like James Puopolo and Justin Rader – the future for American BJJ is looking good.