igor fat ninja tanabe is a one of the arts most decorated young stars making the rare shift to mma

Igor Tanabe | BJJ’s new generation making waves in MMA

Igor ” Fat ninja” Tanabe | Modern BJJ Representative in MMA


Those of us who started BJJ back in the 90s, like I did, remember when BJJ was seen primarily as a form of combat, made famous and introduced to us by Royce Gracie beating up much larger, more dangerous-looking people in no-rules combat, fighting off his back!

It was revolutionary, to say the least, being much smaller and still able to defeat these deadly martial arts masters. It was a very special time in the art, and I’m glad I was a part of it. Though things have changed now, and everyone knows a bit of jiu-jitsu, Still a fan of solid fight skills I’m always on the lookout for the next high-level BJJ representative of the art in MMA.


Today, one of those guys is Igor “Fat Ninja” Tanabe, a highly decorated and successful grappler fighting out of Japan. Known as Fat Ninja  he’s taken out some big names in the sport of BJJ but made the switch the MMA during the pandemic as the result of financial responsibilities that come with fatherhood. Here’s a match vs the always tough Jacob couch


This past weekend he just put on a great performance in Rizin MMA and won by a quick rear choke / crush submission.

fat ninjas is one of bjj's top mma prospects today


Unique BJJ  on the current MMA Landscape

The reason why I bring him to the forefront is that he’s one of the few elite-level BJJ practitioners you get today actually doing mixed martial arts.

As the sport has grown in popularity and exposure, there are fewer and fewer of the very best making the crossover, as you can, in theory, make as much or even more money just doing grappling than crossing over to MMA today

And while there are some very good MMA grapplers out for sure, it’s not often we see top 10 type submission/BJJ athletes in the rings/cage, especially from the new generation with things like One fc, Fight Pass, Polaris, or ADCC being their focus as a competitive career.

So, the best in the game no longer have to need to or want to make a transition to MMA and learn a new skill set or risk the damage that comes with it.

MMA  & Jiu-Jitsu Still go Hand in Hand

That being said, I have even more respect for guys who train BJJ and submission, then put on the gloves, learn all the additional skills, put the skills together in a fight against all styles in open combat. MMA has always been the final test for all the grappling we may have started out doing and while with the evolution of the sport this is no longer totally true there are a few keeping the mentality alive and ready to test their skills in open combat.

IBJJF & Strikeforce champ Jacare highlights

Igor  MMA highlights

Igor has taken out some big names, and I’ll post the videos below for you to take a look at. Now, he’s starting to get comfortable in MMA, and I can see him being a problem for many as he gets a bit cleaner with his striking and transitions from standing to the ground/wrestling, which is crucial because that’s more or less the Achilles heel of jiu-jitsu practitioners: how to transition from the standing position to the ground position or keep the person down on the ground if they try to get up. But that’s a whole other discussion left for another day.


Happy New Year’s, hope you guys have a great start to 2024. Looking forward to it, talk to you soon.

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