2024 ADCC World Championships

Gordon Ryan v Yuri Simoes: Breaking Down The Rivalry Ahead Of ADCC 2024

Gordon Ryan v Yuri Simoes: Breaking Down The Rivalry Ahead Of ADCC 2024

What can their four prior meetings tell us about the upcoming ADCC Super Fight between Gordon Ryan and Yuri Simoes?

Jul 1, 2024 by Joe Gilpin

We are less than fifty days away from the ADCC Worlds and one of the crown jewels of the event will be the super fights. This year, the reigning super fight champion Gordon Ryan will be defending his title twice, against Yuri Simoes and Felipe Pena, in an unprecedented challenge. As Yuri, the 2022 Open Class Champion, prepares for this gargantuan task that could redefine his career, let's take a look back at the four meetings so far between Gordon and Yuri.

The headline is that Gordon is 4-0 against Yuri in his career and has been able to finish him from the back on multiple occasions. When you really dig into the matches, though, you can see moments of success and a path to victory for Yuri against "The King". While Gordon was able to gain a lot of early credibililty in his career with his wins over Yuri it could ultimately be Simoes gaining the last laugh if he can capitalize in Gordon's continuing health struggles.

First Matchup

Their first meeting took place in EBI rules, at EBI 6 in 2016. This tournament was Gordon's real first big breakout under the very popular tournament that he and the Danaher squad dominated. In many ways, this was the match that first put Gordon on the map. He was significantly smaller but more mobile and active, so there are some body type changes since.

During the match (which is available on YouTube), Yuri was able to chain his passing well left and right as he stayed tight using over unders and body locks. In fact, he was able to pass the legs and continually wear on the guard - until Gordon's defensive framing led him to a choi bar that let him then enter the legs. From there, he was able to sweep and really tire Yuri.

Overall they were able to exchange more positions in this match than any others, with Gordon continually stepping back into the legs or spinning into cross ashi garami. Yuri was doing his best to wrestle his way to top position (even securing side control again briefly after spinning out of a heel hook). While Yuri wasn't ever submitted here, he did have to use a lot of energy keeping Ryan at bay.

By the time they hit overtimes, exhaustion was a creeping factor in pace and body language and it was Gordon able to trap an arm, turn that into a bottom-side body triangle, and then sink in the rear naked. Yuri tapped and Gordon hasn't looked back since.

Second Matchup


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They met again a year later at Kasai Pro, the New York-based super fight show that brought some really exciting action. By now in 2017, Gordon was noticeably bigger and stronger and in this match he showed the most aggression against Yuri in their series. After sitting guard, he wrestled up almost immediately following a shove to the chest and secured his half guard positioning from top.

Eventually, he transitioned from inside the half guard to snatch a kimura that led to a back take. Once he was on the back, it was the same story as the EBI match - hand trapped, bottom side body triangle, and rear naked choke finish. This time, it looked even easier.

Third and Fourth Matchup


These are the final two meetings in the series so far and they took place at the 2018 IBJJF World No-Gi Championships in the ultra-heavy and absolute divisions. These matches can be a little hard to try to handicap with regards to how they affect an ADCC rules match. For one, at the time they didn't allow heel hooks which would have likely changed the matches in several key positions and strategies. Second, the points system is totally different with no benefit for early action on the scoreboard.

Still, they are very instructive because we do see more standing action - including a very controversial no takedown call in their first bout. Early on, Yuri enters a single leg and Gordon tries to counter with a sumi gaeshi. Yuri keeps his balance and switches off to the double for the takedown - but he never got points. Gordon eventually won by a single advantage off of that takedown counter but they never gave Yuri any consideration for actually securing top position.

This was very early into the match so it's entirely reasonable to say it would have played out very different tactically if the scoreboard had reflected two points for Yuri. Still, that's the exact kind of match Simoes will need to play if he wants to win at ADCC. Early positional strength, tight passing, and giving very little oxygen for the fight. The more they are exchanging, the worse it will get.


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If you want to see an example of that, check their second match - which came in the weight class. Gordon was able to enter legs early with cross ashi inversions, only to transition to other X guards and bear traps when he needed to sweep (as heel hooks were illegal at the time). By the end of the match, Gordon was passing and mounting to win 11-0 after the match spiraled away early from Simoes's control.


After four matches it has become clear that Gordon has the edge in the series, having reeled off four wins and never being truly threatened with any submission. He's tapped Yuri twice and beaten him in various rulesets. Coming into Worlds, he is the clear favorite and one of the larger recent favorites in official ADCC super fight action.

Still, there's a path to victory for Yuri, especially with Gordon's recent health issues. In his last match at WNO 24 Gordon was nearly vomiting backstage before competing so a higher pace may not be to his benefit like it once was. The draining effect of Gordon's health WILL factor into this match - whether it's enough to even the odds is another story.

Tactically, Yuri will need a few things to go right. First off, he will want the match to stay standing for as long as possible. A protracted hand fight will be the safest path to shortening the match and keeping exchanges limited - and it's how Yuri navigated the field in 2022 to earn this shot. Will Gordon just pull and take the negative? Will Yuri shoot and take him down in the no-points period like Galvao did in 2022?

When they hit the mat, Yuri's tight passing is strong enough for him to be able to stay in the match for extended periods. In the past, it's been kimuras and choi bars that have led to the kinds of entanglements Yuri loses in. Once those locks are on, Gordon ends up on a leg and that has led to sweeps and extended periods stuck underneath getting his battery drained for Simoes. Preventing those frames against pressure from becoming grips is paramount for success in this matchup for Yuri.

From a defensive perspective, it's worth noting that for all the time Gordon has spent on top of Yuri in half guard, it's not usually ending with a pass but a submission entry - either a spin to cross ashi or a kimura that can lead to back takes. Once he is on the back, Gordon has used the exact same hand fighting sequence to get to that ultra-dominant arm trapped body triangle twice - so having a plan against this would be wise.

Can Yuri do this and pull of a monumental upset against Gordon? I would say based on their history he is one of the few that can. He has a proven path to winning long periods against Gordon and he has a proven mastery of the ruleset, all while his opponent is openly suffering from an ongoing health crisis. Now he just has to implement that game plan against the best no-gi grappler in the world on the biggest stage in the entire sport.

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