Fabio Gurgel: ‘Gordon Ryan Is the New Rickson Gracie’

The recent domination of this year’s Abu Dhabi Combat Club World Championship event by Gordon Ryan has blown away the jiu-jitsu community.

The 14th edition of the ADCC Worlds, which were held on Sept. 17 and 18 in Las Vegas, delivered for fans of the gentle art. Several competitors made names for themselves, including Amy Campo for her victory over Gabi Garcia and Kade Ruotolo by winning the 170-pound championship at only 19 years of age. No star shone brighter, however, than Ryan, who triumphed over the field in the 99+ kg division (218.25 pounds) with four victories in no-gi competition to win the gold. After pulling that off, Ryan submitted one of the greatest champions ADCC had ever seen in Andre Galvao, landing the rear-naked choke in their superfight after racking up 12 points.

Multiple Brazilian jiu-jitsu legends and past ADCC competitors Fabricio Werdum, Fabio Gurgel and Carlos Barreto, all had something to say about this dominant grappler. Many believe that Ryan is the greatest no-gi practitioner ever, and his achievements might back that up.

“What [Ryan] did at this ADCC showed that he is way ahead of everyone else,” Werdum said in an interview with Canal Encarada on Thursday. “The guy fought in the over 99kg division, submitted three of the four fights, and even submitted Andre Galvao in the superfight after making [the score] 12-0. We’re talking about Galvao, who is the biggest winner in the event’s history. You have to admit that he is really the king.”

Ryan’s dominance over incredibly tough opponents like Galvao and Nick Rodriguez made Alliance Jiu-Jitsu leader Fabio Gurgel remember the times of the greatest idol of his generation.

Gordon Ryan is the new Rickson [Gracie],” Gurgel explained on his own YouTube channel on Wednesday. “When we fought jiu-jitsu in the 80’s, people would count down Rickson Gracie’s fights, because they knew he was going to submit every opponent, once he never won a fight by points. I haven’t seen a fighter beat all opponents with such dominance since Rickson.”

The most impressed of the three aforementioned names was not Werdum or Gurgel. It was Barreto, who fought in the that same division in the 2nd edition of the event in 1999. He faced off against Mark Kerr, only to lose on points.

“I am a jiu-jitsu teacher, passionate about the sport,” Barreto expressed on Portal de Vale Tudo’s “Papo de Luta” show on Monday. “If we consider jiu-jitsu with gi, Brazilians continue to take most gold medals, but in no-gi, there’s no way to argue that Gordon Ryan [isn’t] 10 years ahead of everyone else. It’s really impressive the work [Coach John] Danaher did with this guy. Technically, tactically, psychologically and mentally. They study what to do against each opponent and make it look easy.”

In terms of awards, Ryan is on his way to becoming the greatest grappling fighter ever. With the two gold medals in this year’s ADCC Championships, “The King” became the first champion in three different divisions at ADCC – up to 88kg in 2017, up to 99kg in 2019 and +99kg this year. He can also add to the list an absolute title and a triumph in the superfight.

Thanks to the two golds won by Danaher’s student, for the first time in ADCC history after 14 World Championship events, the USA surpassed Brazil in gold medals five to three.
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