The competition was created by Sheik Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the son of the former United Arab Emirates president Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, together with his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor Nelson Monteiro. Royler Gracie characterized this as the beginning of "the modern era of submission grappling".
Thousands of Submission grappling tournaments around the world use elements of the ADCC format and rule structure. To date, the great majority of ADCC champions have had experience studying the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, whose rules are the most similar to. However, there have been notable exceptions to this, such as JapaneseSanae Kikuta (Judo/Shoot Wrestling), South African Mark Robinson (who was a champion in judo, Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling, Sumo, and power lifting), and AmericanMark Kerr (Collegiate/Freestyle Wrestling).