WNO 24

WNO 24 Is The Best Card Yet. Here's Why According To A BJJ Expert

WNO 24 Is The Best Card Yet. Here's Why According To A BJJ Expert

With ADCC Worlds 2024 looming, WNO 24 is the last chance for many of the best BJJ stars to build momentum

Jun 19, 2024 by Joe Harrington
Gordon Ryan On His WNO 24 Match And ADCC Prep

With the days counting down until the 2024 ADCC World Championships on Aug. 17 and 18 in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena, the top Jiu-Jitsu athletes in the sport are running out of time for one last competitive match before heading to the desert. 

But not those who are on the WNO 24 card.

The third WNO event of the year, which is on June 20 at 8 p.m. EST in Austin, Texas at the Austin Palmer Event Center, not only gives the 12 ADCC Trials Champions on the card a chance for one last match before ADCC Worlds, it allows them to face opponents who they may see in August. 

“WNO 24 is absolutely critical,” said FloGrappling analyst and reporter Joe Gilpin. “For most of these athletes it’ll be their last competition before they head out to ADCC and a huge percentage of them are facing someone they should expect to have to face at ADCC.” 

Gilpin said the WNO 24 card is loaded with possible ADCC Worlds matchups, like Ana Rodrigues and Adele Fornarino, who will grapple on the main card in a Flyweight match. 

“That could easily be the (ADCC) final,” Gilpin said. 

“There is something for everyone who is at this event, (and) who is getting ready for ADCC," Gilpin adde. "They all have something to win and all have something to lose.” 

Gilpin said the card is one of the best since WNO began more than five years ago. It’s not just the fact that the world’s best grappler, Gordon Ryan, is defending his WNO Heavyweight title, or that Deigo Pato and Fabricio Andrey is one of the best matches of the year, but it’s the career-altering opportunity on the card for those who aren’t headed to ADCC. 


“There are a certain number of athletes (on the WNO 24 card) who are not going to ADCC and I think this is also a critical event for them,” Gilpin said. “Because of how many eyes are going to be on (WNO 24), because of the churn of ADCC. People get hurt … athletes drop out, and we need athletes to come in."

Get your tickets here for WNO 24 in Austin, TX on June 20

“If you come on a card like this and you have a great performance … if you weren’t really known beforehand, you can get known right now. And you can make your way to the T-Mobile Arena, competing in front of tens of thousands of people just based on - can you over-perform at WNO 24.”

Here are five reasons why BJJ fans need to watch WNO 24. 

Gordon Ryan Is Back 

Gordon Ryan is the No.1-ranked Pound-For-Pound No-Gi grappler in the world. Ryan has not lost a match since 2018 and faces an up-and-comer in Josh Saunders, who began training in Jiu-Jitsu in 2019. 

Ryan hasn’t competed since Fall of 2023 when he won at WNO 20 while using an arm bar. That was one of his only matches in 2023 due to illness and injury. 

But with an automatic invitation to ADCC Worlds based on his status as the defending -99KG champion, Ryan is headed to WNO 24 with an eye on August. 

“We have seen Gordon have extended layoffs before in his career because of his ongoing health issues, which is important to note are still not solved” Gilpin said, noting that Ryan continues to battle stomach issues. “He’s returning right now because of the timing of ADCC. 

Gordon Ryan Gets A Lamborghini Delivery

“He doesn’t want to walk into ADCC cold, (and) having not competed in nearly a year.”

Gilpin said that while Ryan may be putting his title on the line in what could be seen as a warmup match, Saunders, who Gilpin called “a very tough athlete,” certainly is ready to push Ryan in his return. 

But the bottom line is Ryan's return to the mat is very important to the sport of Jiu-Jitsu. 

“It means that the most polarizing figure in the sport is rearing his head again right at the time when things are at their most chaotic,” Gilpin said of Ryan’s return. “He has returned to kind of remind everybody just how far ahead of the field he really is, especially at his weight class.”

What Makes Gordon Ryan The Best Grappler In The World?

So what makes Ryan the best no-gi grappler in the world?

“Gordon brings a unique blend of size, technique and technical mastery to his matches where he is able to implement a very specific gameplan over time that his opponent are not able to keep up with,” Gilpin said. “The real key to Gordon’s success at the end of the day is that he has been able to bring the technical systems of his professor, John Danaher, to life.”

Gilpin said Danaher, who also coaches Nicholas Meregali, is considered a grappling genius and that Ryan is his “life’s work.”

“Gordon is the best student he’s ever produced,” Gilpin said.

A Gordon Ryan Loss Would Be The Biggest BJJ Upset Ever

Gilpin didn’t mince words. Whenever Ryan loses next, if that ever happens, the winner will have pulled off the biggest upset in the history of the sport. 

Especially if it’s Saunders. 

“Ever,” Gilpin emphasized. “Josh was a superlative lifter and an all-around athlete in Australia who started grappling in 2019. He is very early into his grappling career and he’s already very successful. (But) you have to understand: Gordon has been undefeated since 2018. Josh has not been doing Jiu-Jitsu at a time that Gordon has had a loss.”

But whether it’s Saunders or someone else, the next time Ryan loses will send shockwaves in the sport. 

“There’s no question that the next time Gordon loses, it’ll be one of the biggest upsets in grappling history,” Gilpin said. “Provided he does lose again.” 

The Best Match At WNO 24 Probably Doesn't Feature Gordon Ryan

As exciting as Gordon Ryan vs. Josh Saunders is, mainly because it features Ryan returning against a talented rising grappler, it’s the Featherweight title match that just may steal the show. 

“The people’s main event,” Gilpin joked of the Diego Pato vs. Fabricio Andrey match. “These are two special athletes who not only win at the highest level but have found a way to win in very exciting fashion.”

Pato is the first double champion at WNO as he is currently the WNO Featherweight and Lightweight champion. 

“He is a devastating leg locker,” Gilpin said, “who not only tends to win, but tends to often cripple opponents. It is scary to face Pato.”

Andrey is a former World Champion in the Gi, as is Pato, who is a dynamic grappler. 

“He brings a lot of unique techniques that are very fan friendly to watch and he pushes a very high pace,” Gilpin said. 

“So just because of who these two athletes are, they're both very exciting in their own right and both very popular with fans in their own right and we’re putting them together,” Gilpin added. “Whoever wins that match will probably be the oddsmaker favorite to win ADCC.”

WNO Middleweight Title Is Up For Grabs

Tye Ruotolo vacated the WNO Middleweight title after having not been able to defend the title in the proper amount of time. Therefore the the belt will move to either Jacob Couch or Jonnatas Gracie. 

Couch is the No.4 grappler in his weight class and will face Gracie, the No. 8 grappler. Gracie is challenging for the belt on short notice after an injury to Francisco Lo forced him off the WNO 24 card. 

Couch is the ADCC West Coast Trials champion while Gracie, not related to the famed BJJ Gracie family, made the finals of the ADCC South American Trials. 

“Jonnatas is from Atos, the Andre Galvao gym… he is a very strong, tactically smart (and a) very experienced grappler,” Gilpin said. “Both of these guys are in very important points of their career. (Couch) has been someone who has been so close, so many times that for many fans this would be the moment that he finally wins the big one."

“And he’s the fan-favorite, sentimental favorite, comes from the middle of Kentucky and who should have never been a grappling champion. This guy can go win something really serious.”

Whoever wins this title won’t have to look far for their next challenger. In fact, he could be on the WNO 24 card. 

Tainan Dalpra is the No. 12 ranked no-gi grappler, but is the No. 5 gi-grappler. Dalpra is somewhat new to WNO and faces Jay Rodriguez on the WNO 24 card. 

Jay Rod: 'Beating Tainan Would Be Massive'

Also looming in the weight class is the No. 1 gi-grappler and the No. 2 no-gi grappler Mica Galvao, who is considering moving up to the Middleweight class. Galvao is the current WNO Welterweight champion. 

“The winner of Tainan Dalpra and Jay Rodriguez should be of special interest to whoever wins the middleweight championship,” Gilpin said. 

Which Match Are The BJJ Experts Excited For At WNO 24?

Outside of the championship matches, and the Dalpra-Rodriguez match, Gilpin has two matches that the jiu-jitsu fan inside of him is eager to watch. 

Elijah Dorsey vs. Jozef Chen and Ana Rodrigues vs. Adele Fornarino. 

“(Dorsey and Chen) are two very exciting up-and-comers,” Gilpin said. “At the first North American ADCC Trials, Elijah Dorsey was a shocking winner, beating Nicky Ryan, who is Jozef's teammate. (Chen) won the European Trials. These are two very technical, two very young, exciting grapplers who are looking to make a name (and) who understand that they are both right on that edge breaking into that top level of guys.”

Fornarino, who gave herself the nickname “Daddy Fornarino,” made waves at WNO 22 when she had the fastest WNO submission ever, and is still the fastest submission for a female grappler at WNO. The Australian grappler is facing a multiple-time Gi World Champion and is one of the best Brazilian female grapplers. 

“(Fornarino) is absolutely vicious and breaks people,” Gilpin said. “(Rodrigues) is a smash mouth, absolutely determined competitor with no quit in her.”

How To Watch The WNO 24 Card

WNO 24 is streaming live on FloGrappling and the FloSports app. Match replays, highlights and breaking news will be on both platforms. 

WNO 24 Card

Here’s the complete card. 

Main Card

  • WNO Heavyweight Championship - #1 Gordon Ryan vs Josh Saunders
  • WNO Featherweight Championship - #1 Diego Pato vs #3 Fabricio Andrey
  • WNO Middleweight Championship - #4 Jacob Couch vs #8 Jonnatas Gracie
  • Heavyweight Bout - #3 Victor Hugo vs Javier Zaruski
  • Middleweight Bout - #12 Tainan Dalpra vs #9 Jay Rodriguez
  • Flyweight Bout - #2 Ana Rodrigues vs #4 Adele Fornarino
  • Welterweight Bout - #9 Elijah Dorsey vs #6 Jozef Chen
  • Lightweight Bout - #4 Deandre Corbe vs #8 Ethan Crelinsten


  • Heavyweight Bout - Felipe Costa vs Declan Moody
  • Flyweight Bout - Taylor Hishaw vs Lauren Sears
  • Lightweight Bout - Andrew DeGraff vs Jordan Holy
  • Flyweight Bout - Ally Wolski vs Nathalia Santoro

When Is ADCC Worlds 2024 

The ADCC World Championships are Aug. 17-18 in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile Center. The championship event will stream live on FloGrappling and the FloSports app. 

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