Gordon Ryan Returns to KASAI to Meet Joao Gabriel Rocha Feb. 2

KASAI Elite Grappling Championships has confirmed that Gordon Ryan and Joao Gabriel Rocha will meet in a superfight at ‘KASAI Super Series’ on Saturday, February 2 at The Bomb Factory in Dallas, TX.

KASAI Super Series is an event of firsts: it marks the first time they will host a show outside of New York, and it will exclusively feature superfights in place of the tournaments they have been known to put together (the next tournament returns later in the year). 

Headlining what promises to be a stacked card is a match-up between two titans. 

ADCC champion and no-gi specialist Gordon Ryan will face off with 2015 ADCC silver medalist Joao Gabriel Rocha in an ultra-heavyweight showdown. 

"Ryan vs Rocha is the matchup we have been waiting for," said KASAI President Rolles Gracie. "Ryan has recently been one of the most dominant athletes in the sport. He will be facing literally one of the biggest challenges of his career against an opponent who normally fights in the ultra-heavyweight division." 

João Gabriel Rocha is a black belt under the instruction of Leandro Escobar and Rafael 'Formiga' Barbosa. Before earning his black belt, Rocha was regarded as one of the top brown belts in the world, having won every important competition in the jiu-jitsu community. He has since become one of the top contenders of the ultra-heavyweight black belt division, with medals at the world’s top tournaments. As well as his ADCC silver medal he is an IBJJF Pan American Champion (2017 & 2018), and Brazilian National Champion. 

Gordon Ryan completed a remarkable rise to the top of the game under the tutelage of coaches John Danaher and Tom DeBlass by becoming the first American to secure gold in the 88kg weight class at the 2017 ADCC World Championships. He also earned a second-place finish in the competition’s absolute division. At ‘KASAI Pro 1’ in December 2017, Gordon bested Yuri Simoes via rear naked choke. Just this year, Ryan won double gold at the IBJJF Pan No-Gi in New York. 

In addition to Gordon vs Rocha, ‘KASAI Super Series’ will also showcase some of jiu-jitsu’s most decorated names in compelling feature fights and must-see super fights.

Trials Winner 'Tex' Johnson to Face 'Demente' 

Aaron 'Tex' Johnson and Ricardo ‘Demente’ Abreu will meet in a supporting main card superfight. 

Ricardo ‘Demente’ Abreu is a Nova Uniao black belt nicknamed ‘madman’ in Portuguese. A former UFC fighter, he twice took silver medals at the IBJJF World Championships (2009 & 2010). 

Aaron Johnson, representing Unity Jiu-Jitsu Academy of New York City, is a black belt under Philip Smith and Murilo Santana. An IBJJF Pan No-Gi champ, Johnson is known for his aggressive leg attacks that saw him blast through the recent ADCC East Coast Trials, winning all five of his matches in less than four minutes combined. 

"We love this matchup," said KASAI CEO Rich Byrne. "It’s a battle between two real aggressive competitors. Both of these guys have the potential to be breakout stars." 

DeBlass vs Bastos in Battle of Big Men

Two of the most inspirational and influential masters in the game are set to compete in a main card match. 

Tom DeBlass is a well-known and respected grappler and coach who earned his black belt under Ricardo Almeida. An experienced jiu-jitsu and MMA competitor, he has produced high-level athletes including Garry Tonon. DeBlass is a multiple time ADCC veteran and Trials winner as well as World No-Gi champion (Masters). 

Bruno Bastos is a well-known and prolific black belt who is based in Midland, Texas. A ADCC veteran and champion grappler active for over 15 years as a black belt, he holds many IBJJF titles including Masters World gi and no-gi champion, including in the absolute division. 

Tickets for ‘KASAI Super Series’ will be on sale on a date to be determined soon. The event will air live exclusively February 2 on FloGrappling and be available to watch On Demand immediately after.

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