2022 Tezos WNO: Gordon Ryan vs Felipe Pena

Grappling Bulletin: Why Felipe Pena Finally Agreed To Rematch Gordon Ryan

Grappling Bulletin: Why Felipe Pena Finally Agreed To Rematch Gordon Ryan

Few people believed that Gordon Ryan would ever get his rematch with Felipe Pena. Let’s examine why this match will finally happen (spoiler: it's personal).

May 23, 2022 by Hywel Teague
Grappling Bulletin: Why Felipe Pena Finally Agreed To Rematch Gordon Ryan

There's never a dull moment in the jiu-jitsu world, especially when Gordon Ryan is involved. Last week we dropped the bombshell news that Gordon would return for not one, but TWO big matches prior to ADCC. 

First, WNO light heavyweight champion Pedro Marinho will take on Gordon Ryan on the WNO: Who's Next Finale on July 14. Then, just 24 days later, Gordon will face off with his old foe Felipe Pena in a special no-time limit, submission-only rules match. 

We'll definitely have lots to discuss in today's show, so make sure to tune in for the live stream on our YouTube page at 4pm ET. We'll also be talk about the upcoming IBJJF Worlds (just over a week away!), the many great superfights we can look forward to over the summer, and more. 

Don't forget– if you haven’t had chance make sure to check out Episodes 1 & 2 of Who’s Next here. Episode 3 drops on Wednesday, May 25! 

Watch the Grappling Bulletin podcast, every Monday at 4pm ET. Watch it on FloGrappling.com or the app, or catch it LIVE on YouTube.

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Grappling News Round-Up 

Read on for a breakdown of the major news stories from around the world of jiu-jitsu and grappling. 

Grapplefest: O'Flanaghan taps Blank, Barch, Williams victorious

  • Five ADCC competitors appeared on UK-based event Grapplefest last weekend in a series of sub-only matches that gave us a taste of what to expect come September’s ADCC World Championship.  
  • Two European Trials winners earned wins against opponents from the USA, while the invited PJ Barch (who’s still hopeful to get the call to the big show) picked up a decision win against the invited 77kg competitor Dante Leon to claim the -80kg title. 
  • Eoghan O’Flanagan, the 1st ADCC European Trials winner at 88kg, used a triangle to submit Jon Blank of 10th Planet, who made it to the final four in 2019. 
  • Ashley Williams, who qualified for ADCC by winning the 66kg division at the 1st European Trials, beat North American Trials winner Keith Krikorian by decision.

Grapplefest has long been one of the primary platforms for matching top European grapplers against international opponents. Their sub-only ruleset obviously means the results could be very different under the points system of ADCC, but in the case of a submission like O’Flanagan’s it’s a sign that the European talent is quickly catching up to the Americans, who have historically enjoyed a clear advantage. That gap is closing. 

Ruotolos Dominate Garry Tonon and Shinya Aoki 

  • The 18-year-old Ruotolo twins Tye and Kade made emphatic submission grappling debuts with ONE Championship in Singapore. 
  • Tye Ruotolo ran through Garry Tonon, submitting him in less than 90 seconds with a darce choke. Controlling the pace on the feet Tye took the match to the mat and quickly sunk in the match-ending submission. Tonon could not get an offensive move off. 
  • Kade Ruotolo’s match with Shinya Aoki was a highlight reel moment for the teenager, as he scored takedowns, back takes and worked on submission attacks against a cagey opponent. Aoki had little answer for Ruotolo’s attacks and played defensive from start to finish, managing to hang on until time expired.

The Ruotolo brothers have spoken about their desire to fight MMA, and signing with ONE Championship offers them the chance to compete in grappling matches, show off their skills and gain fans with the organization before they put on the gloves. Matching them against the aging yet respected Tonon and Aoki was a test they passed with flying colors and an opportunity they did not miss to make a statement. 

Basilio meets Ffion in return of RAW Grappling

  • London-based no-gi professional event RAW Grappling returns on July 3, and they've booked a number of matches with key ADCC competitors. 
  • Reigning ADCC champ Bianca Basilio will face off with Ffion Davies for the first time since they last met in the 2019 ADCC finals. Basilio won that match via submission. 
  • There are two matches featuring competitors confirmed for ADCC's 66kg division in Septmember: Gabriel Sousa of ZR Team will face off with Ashley Williams, who just beat Keith Krikorian, while Diego "Pato" Oliveira will meet Ethan Crelinsten of B-Team. 

RAW's last event featured a Grand Prix as well as super fights and they assembled a world-class roster of talent. With these three matches they've quickly shown that this next event is worth paying attention to. It'll be live streamed here on FloGrappling on July 3, and is not one to miss. 

Quick hits 

Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida's May 22nd MMA fight was postponed due to his opponent testing positive for COVID. He was expected to appear on the same event as the Ruotolos, but his fight has been rescheduled for June 3. 

DJ Jackson has been fired from his coaching position at the Fairtex gym in Thailand following allegations of "stealing money from students, embezzlement, and fraud". 

The Submission Only Series event in Los Angeles will hold a welterweight qualifier event on June 11th, with the winner getting a spot on the July 23rd $5000 pro event. The Qualifier will be free to watch on their YouTube channel, with Submission Only Series VII live streamed here on FloGrappling. 

Gordon Ryan vs The World

Honestly, I didn't believe this day would ever come. It's been nearly five years since Felipe Pena beat Gordon Ryan for the second time, when they met in the absolute final of ADCC 2017. 

Since then Gordon has risen to the top of the no-gi grappling world, but no matter how high he climbs or whichever records he breaks, his haters love to bring up the two losses to Pena. I was 100% of the opinion that this match would never happen, as Pena had no real motivation to face off with Gordon for a third time. How wrong I was. 

Gordon and Felipe have signed to meet on August 7 in a no time limit, submission-only rules match. They will go until one man gives up. It's remarkable that we get to see this before ADCC, as Felipe explicitly said that he was moving up to the +99kg division so he could face Gordon. 

There’s no mystery as to why Gordon and Pedro Marinho will meet. Pedro is hungry, he’s the WNO light-heavyweight champion, and has made no secret he’d love a rematch with Gordon Ryan following their encounter in the opening round of the absolute division in 2019. Gordon won that match quickly via heel hook, but Marinho has evolved considerably since then. He joined the ADCC 2019 tournament as a last-minute call-up, competing on two weeks notice. In the following two and a half years he has become a double gold no-gi World champion (a title Gordon achieved in 2018). Marinho also claimed the WNO strap by beating Craig Jones in January of 2021. 

WATCH: Pedro Marinho Talks Gordon Ryan Match & More

While Marinho is excited to show the world that he is, in his own words, “among the greatest of all time”, Pena’s reasons for taking the match are very different. 

Felipe Pena is one of only four men to have beaten Gordon Ryan at black belt. They are (in order) Aaron Tex Johnson, Felipe Pena (x2), Leandro Lo, and Vinny Magalhaes. Pena is also the only man to have submitted Ryan at black belt, using a RNC to tap him in their challenge match in 2016. 

We need to be clear about something here: Pena is financially set, so whatever he’s been offered for this match, it’s not about the money. He certainly has nothing to prove– as the only person to have tapped Gordon, he holds a unique position in the grappling world. 

The real reason for this match taking place? It’s personal. Felipe Pena can’t stand Gordon Ryan. Gordon revealed that Pena was physically rough with him during their first match in 2016 and even trash talked him mid-match. This beef goes back to the beginning of the saga. 

With the hopes of the entire country of Brazil on his shoulders Felipe Pena’s confidence must be sky-high. As he said, he’s agreed to Gordon’s rules, and to do the match in Gordon’s country. He’ll need to submit Ryan to win the match, as it’ll only end if one person quits. No rounds, no judges, and no other way out. 

A near-impossible task for any grappler except Felipe Pena. But is the Felipe Pena of 2022 able to replicate the success of 2016-17, and how much has Gordon Ryan changed since then? We’ll find out on August 7. 

IBJJF Results Recap 

The final tournaments before Worlds went down over the weekend, with open events in Houston and Salvador, Brazil. Here are the standout results: 

  • 2019 featherweight world champ and 2021 lightweight silver medalist Matheus Gabriel (above) won the lightweight division in Houston. This was his first event of 2022 following a long layoff due to a shoulder injury. He is signed up for Worlds in the lightweight division. 
  • Mathias Luna of Checkmat beat Levi Jones-Leary to win the middleweight division. Jones-Leary has registered for the lightweight division at Worlds. 
  • Igor Schneider of Dream Art took absolute gold with a win over Andre Porfirio of Fight Sports. 2021 Pan champ Porfirio took double silver, losing to Bruno Matias of Gracie Barra in the heavyweight division.  
  • Double gold champs Rider Zuchi and Gabrieli Pessanha were dominant at the Salvador Open, both winning their divisions and the absolutes.

The Road to Worlds

Then divisions are filled out and registration ended at midnight last night. We'll start digging into the division line-ups over the next few days to start out bracket predictions– note that the athletes still have a few days to change their weight class, so it could be until later in the week before things settle down. 

Trey and Mike killed it in Brazil with their epic tour of places such as São Paulo, Manaus, Rio de Janeiro and even Belo Horizonte. Check out Trey's vlog from Brasileiros, which features some amazing highlights of one of the best tournaments in the world. 


While the guys were holding down in Brazil, Corey headed up to Xande Ribeiro's Six Blades gym and documented the heavyweight training of Xande, Victor Hugo and Rafael Lovato Jr. There'll be more vlogs from more gyms coming soon!