Grappling Bulletin: A Closer Look At Gordon vs Felipe IV

Grappling Bulletin: A Closer Look At Gordon vs Felipe IV

Tezos WNO: Ryan vs Pena II is less than a week away! Plus, the WNO prelims announcement, recent team moves, the upside of team-athlete contracts, and more.

Feb 20, 2023 by Corey Stockton

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The fourth showdown between Gordon Ryan and Felipe Pena is less than a week away. In the last two weeks, we've caught up with both athletes to check in on their training camps, and to hear their takes on the upcoming bout at Tezos WNO: Ryan vs Pena II presented by Fat Tire.

Subscribe To FloGrappling For Gordon Ryan Vs. Felipe Pena

Before the match kicks off on February 25, we went back through the tape to review the third match, which took place in August 2022. Read our takeaways — and much more — below.


Tune into the Grappling Bulletin Podcast every Monday. Today’s show, Season 2 Episode 5, airs at 4:30 p.m. ET. Watch it on or the app, or catch it LIVE on YouTube.

With the anticlimactic ending of the most recent matchup between Gordon Ryan and Felipe Pena, it may be easy to forget just how competitive that match appeared.

After more than 40 minutes, Pena surrendered without a submission lock in place.

Still, both men had their opportunities and successes within that first 40 minutes. These were some of the best:

(noteworthy sequences timestamped below)

Gordon's inverted back attack to sweep (8:30 elapsed)

Gordon Ryan's most common sweeping game comes from butterfly and half guard. There, he's best known for a fundamental sweeping style, elevating his opponent to either side, usually with the assistance of an underhook of a short armlock.

But he broke out a more flashy sweep in his first attack of the match, inverting underneath Pena and coming up to back control, taking top position as Pena defended.

Beware the Preg Trap (41:00 elapsed)

In what may be considered Pena's most significant attack of the match, Pena utilized his favorite leg entanglement to stop Ryan in his tracks, then pulled on the leg in search of a submission or sweep. Despite noticeable torque on the leg, Ryan defended. Still, the fact remains, Pena found a way to get to his A-game on Ryan, and showed signs that he can mount attacks from there.

Gordon's octopus guard sweep (18:30 elapsed)

The octopus guard is a dangerous game against a back attack specialist. But Gordon Ryan engaged in the position against Pena. It seemed a neck and neck battle, with risks and rewards for both athletes. Gordon edged out the battle, securing top position, a beautiful sweep against Pena's solid base.

3 precise takedowns from Gordon (32:50, 36:40, 43:50)

Gordon Ryan landed the only three takedowns of the match: a mat return from the back, a chasing foot sweep on a wrestle up, and another perfectly-timed foot sweep seconds before the match ended.

Pena unintimidated by Gordon's leg entanglement game

Gordon Ryan is perhaps the best recognized leg locker in the world of grappling. Despite that, it was Felipe Pena who initiated each of the several leg entanglements in the bout. In past bouts, Pena has taken Ryan's back from those positions while Ryan sought to attack a leg lock. Ryan did not attempt to attack Pena's legs in the bout, but on multiple occasions, Pena utilized those leg entanglements to attempt to wrestle up on Ryan. Pena could not down Ryan, but he often returned to his feet.

Ryan's clinch game is exhausting (match start to 8:00 elapsed)

Gordon Ryan tried to weigh on Pena at every turn. In the first eight minutes of the match — before pulling guard — Ryan touched Pena's head or neck 33 times. In a battle of endurance, exhausting your opponent is key. Ryan kicked this strategy off early and often, pulling on Pena's head.

Catch up with Gordon and Felipe

We've spent the last few weeks dropping in on the main event contestants to watch them prepare for Tezos WNO. See what their training camps have been like in the All Access series, which will continue through this week.

Official announcement: 2 Tezos WNO undercard matchups

Before the star-studded main card kicks off, four athletes will have a chance to prove they have what it takes to become WNO regulars.

In the first match of the evening, brown belt Dominic Meija will face 10th Planet purple belt Thien Luu-Nguyen. And in the feature prelim of the night, Atos standout and rookie black belt Calon Sabino will face No-Gi Worlds masters world champion black belt Stephen Martinez. Both of these matches are available for free on FloGrappling’s Facebook and YouTube accounts, and will also be aired on the official stream of Tezos WNO: Ryan vs Pena II presented by Fat Tire on February 25.

Tezos WNO: Ryan vs Pena II presented by Fat Tire | full card & schedule

Friday, Feb 24

4:30 pm ET — Official press conference live on FloGrappling, YouTube & Facebook

Saturday, Feb 25

  • 8:30 pm ET — Official Pre-Show with Caio Terra, Kendall Reusing, Jake Watson & Corey Stockton
  • 9:00 pm ET — prelims begin live on FloGrappling, YouTube & Facebook
    • Dominic Meija vs Thien Luu-Nguyen | 15 min
    • Calon Sabino vs Stephen Martinez | 15 min
  • 10:00 pm ET — main card begins only on FloGrappling
    • Kieran Kichuk vs Rene Sousa | 15 min
    • Jasmine Rocha vs Amanda Bruse | 15 min
    • Oliver Taza vs Jonnatas Gracie | 15 min
    • JT Torres vs Magid Hage | 15 min
    • Pedro Marinho (c) vs Giancarlo Bodoni | 15 min for light heavyweight title
    • Gordon Ryan (c) vs Felipe Pena | no time limit, submission only for heavyweight title

Last week, the oddsmakers released betting lines for each of the main card matches, as well as prop bets on the duration of the no time limit bout. Check them out here.

Tickets for the event are sold out. Stream it live, only on FloGrappling.

Free agency season: 5 athletes leave teams, 1 announces new contract

Jiu-jitsu isn't like many other sports. Teams don't trade athletes, there's no trade deadline of free agency period. Athletes come to a team and leave it on their own volition.

Still, athletes do come and go.

And, although it's seldom discussed, athletes sometimes sign contracts to represent teams in competition.

We'll get to that...

First, February has been a month full of the aforementioned comings and goings. Earlier this week, news surfaced that Who's Next reality show star and winner Izaak Michell has left the B-Team in Austin, TX. 

Michell is not alone among athletes who have left the team they represented for the past season. In early 2023, three athletes announced that they had left the Fight Sports organization.

2021 Pans champ Andre Porfirio, 2022 Euros champ Maggie Grindatti, and 2022 no-gi world champion brown belt Luccas Lira have all left the Miami academy citing different reasons. While some might consider Porfirio and Grindatti "free agents" for now, Lira told FloGrappling he was headed to Dream Art USA in Houston, TX this season.

Read the full Fight Sports story here.

But while some high profile athletes are headed to Dream Art, others have left.

2023 European champ, Thalyta Silva announced that she had left Dream Art, and said she had signed a two-year contract with Fratres, located in São Paulo, Brazil.

Athlete contracts are rarely made public knowledge in grappling. But it appears an important step in the growth of the sport.

While in most cases, competitors supplement their competition earnings by teaching at academies, they are also — by competing — marketing for those academies. A contract puts an explicit value on that marketing. 

Contracts allow athletes and the teams they represent to set terms, including but not limited too:

  • How often an athlete must compete
  • What an athlete can expect, monetarily or otherwise, from the team they represent
  • How an athlete should conduct themselves in competition
  • If, how often, and at what rate of pay an athlete will teach classes

Having these terms set on paper is crucial. Explicit expectations are important. They allow the athletes in this growing sport to set realistic goals, and to affiliate with whichever organization will best help them in achieving those goals.

Of course, there are potential risks. Athletes could, in theory, be held to a win percentage clause, a submission percentage clause, or any set of terms that harp on performance.

But even those stipulations can illuminate something which has often been kept in the dark: the value of an athlete — and their performance — to their team.

I'm not suggesting that team's don't value their athletes. But contracts, openly discussed, help to keep this value open and explicit. 

“The Ups & Downs of The Manaus Boys” film coming March 8

Last week, FloSports Studios announced the second FloGrappling feature film to be released in 2023. The documentary, which is scheduled to premiere on Wednesday, March 8, follows three of Brazil’s brightest stars the the 2022 ADCC South American Trials and the World Championships which followed.

Follow Mica Galvao, Diogo Reis, and Fabricio Andrey, three students of coach Melqui Galvao — then training in Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil — as they experience glory, defeat and turmoil at the largest grappling event in history, the 2022 ADCC World Championships, and the trials events leading to it.

This is the second feature FloGrappling film of the year, following “Becoming Dangerous: The Rise of Giancarlo Bodoni.”

Watch the official trialer premiere of “The Ups & Downs of the Manaus Boys” live during Tezos WNO: Ryan vs Pena II on Saturday, February 25.

Weekend round up

with reporting by Vitor Freitas & Mayara Munhos

The IBJJF hosted two events on two different continents this weekend, attracting many of the top grapplers from around the world, including rookie black belt Uanderson Ferreira, and a two-time world champ recently released from USADA suspension.

Uanderson, Tayane, Jansen, Roberto tackle IBJJF London Open

2023 IBJJF brown belt Euros champ Uanderson Ferreira wasted no time making waves at black belt. The standout rookie, who was promoted to black belt shortly after his double gold Euros campaign, took gold at the IBJJF London Open this weekend, defeating the reigning black belt European champ Jansen Gomes on his way to the top of the podium.

Ferreira had earned a reputation as one of the most dangerous brown belts during his time at the rank, scoring victories over several top-level black belts on the AJP circuit. He stands to have a breakthrough rookie year in 2023, especially if he competes in some of the major IBJJF tournaments later this season.

Tayane Porfirio returned to IBJJF competition for the first time since 2018 at the London Open, securing an absolute title after receiving a default gold in the super heavyweight category.

Porfirio had served a four year suspension from USADA which began in June 2018, and was cleared to return in June of 2022. She gave birth to a daughter in September of that year, and made her return to IBJJF competition this weekend. Her presence could shake up the women’s super heavyweight and open categories, which have been dominated by Gabi Pessanha and Yara Soares since Porfirio’s departure.

Read more about Porfirio’s return here.

After losing to Ferreira in the medium heavyweight division, Jansen Gomes rebounded in London to capture the absolute title. Gomes defeated four, including Bradley Hill in the semifinal and Roberto Jimenez in the final. Jimenez had won the heavyweight category.

Jimenez had a stellar outing in the no-gi division the following day, securing six victories in total to capture double gold. He finished the weekend with three gold medals and a silver in four categories.

Mateus Rodrigues, Caio Vinicius and Ronaldo Junior take gold at Memphis Open

  • Gracie Barra’s Caio Vinicius — Caio BBG — won the absolute title at the IBJJF Memphis open, defeating Rafael Fernando of 316 BJJ. 
  • Vinicius took silver in the heavyweight category, losing to Mateus Rodrigues of AOJ.
  • The heavyweight category was one of the most stacked of the tournament. “El Monstro” Elder Cruz took third place in that division, losing to Vinicius in the semis.
  • Ronaldo Junior won the medium heavyweight division, defeating Guthierry Barbosa in the final. Junior will face Francisco Lo in a superfight at the IBJJF FloGrappling Grand Prix on March 3.
  • Ismael Santos (GFteam) won the featherweight bracket. 
  • João Mendes (Atos) took first place at lightweight, defeating Gabriel Sousa in the final.
  • Jonathan Satava (Alliance) won gold at middleweight.

Pedro Rocha and Thamires Monteiro shut out Memphis No-Gi Open

  • Pedro Rocha dominated the men’s absolute division, defeating Omer Emanoely in the final.
  • At medium heavyweight, Clay Mayfield defeated Vinicius Lino for gold.
  • Jackson Douglas won the ultra heavyweight category.
  • Thamires Monteiro won default gold in the middleweight division, then won her only match in the absolute category, defeating Kaynara Martins.

Upcoming Events

Tezos WNO: Ryan vs Pena II presented by Fat Tire | February 25

The fourth installment in this epic rivalry will be a no time limit submission only bout between the dominant Gordon Ryan, and the only person ever to submit him — the only person to defeat him twice — Felipe Pena.

Also on the card, Giancarlo Bodoni will try to take the light heavyweight title off of reigning champ Pedro Marinho, JT Torres and Magid Hage will make their WNO debuts against each other, and much more!

Tune into FloGrappling on Saturday, February 25 for all the action, and catch the (sure to be heated) press conference on Friday, February 24 at 4:30 pm ET.

Finishers Kombat IV | February 26

In Bethlehem, PA, 145 lb Finisher champ Trinity Pun will jump up in weight to challenge 155 lb champ Vanessa Griffin for the title. Interim champ Kemoy Anderson and reigning champ Sean Yadimarco will square off to unify the 185 lb title. Plus, a full card of superfights.

IBJJF FloGrappling Grand Prix | March 3

A men's lightweight grand prix for $10,000 featuring:

A women's heavyweight grand prix for $10,000 featuring four world champions

Plus a 30-minute superfight bout featuring middleweight world champs Tainan Dalpra and Isaque Bahiense, and explosive bouts featuring Ronaldo Junior, Francisco Lo, Nathalie Ribeiro and Janaina Lebre.

SOGI Winter Warz | March 11

  • A middleweight championship bracket featuring Chris Wojcik, Enrique Galarza and more.
  • A main event heavyweight title bout between Alex Nemeth and "Adult Slayer" Pat Shagholi.
  • Plus, several superfights featuring some of the east coast's rising stars.

2023 IBJJF Pan Championships | March 21-26

The registration list is filling up for the 2023 IBJJF Pan Championships. More news to come about the top-tier black belts registered soon. In the meantime, here's the IBJJF's early draft schedule (this schedule may change as the event approaches.)

Tuesday, March 21

  • White Adult
  • White Masters
  • Blue belt adult male

Wednesday, March 22

  • White Adult
  • White Masters
  • Blue belt adult male
  • Blue belt adult female
  • Purple belt adult female

Thursday, March 23

  • White Adult
  • White Masters
  • Blue belt adult male
  • Blue belt adult female
  • Purple belt adult female
  • Purple belt masters
  • Brown belt adult
  • Black belt master 1 and 2

Friday, March 24

  • Blue belt adult female
  • Purple belt adult male
  • Purple belt adult female
  • Purple belt masters
  • Brown belt adult
  • Black belt master 1 and 2
  • Black belt master 3

Saturday, March 25

  • White belt Juvenile
  • Blue belt juvenile
  • Blue belt masters
  • Purple belt juvenile
  • Purple belt masters
  • Purple belt adult male
  • Brown belt masters
  • Black belt master 3
  • Black belt master 4 to 7
  • Black belt adult

Sunday, March 26

  • White belt Juvenile
  • Blue belt juvenile
  • Blue belt masters
  • Purple belt juvenile
  • Purple belt adult male
  • Brown belt masters
  • Black belt master 4 to 7
  • Black belt adult

Emerald City Invitational 6 | April 29

  • A men's 32-athlete 135 lb bracket featuring Estevan Martinez, Valor Boyer, Manny Vasquez, and many more.
  • A women's 16-athlete  135 lb bracket featuring Trinity Pun, Miranda Maverick, Peyton Letcher, Claire North and more.
  • Plus a main event superfight to be announced.