BJJ is growing at an incredible rate and the sport is reaching new heights in 2024, so naturally there are some huge matches that the fans would love to see. Obviously there will be all of the same major IBJJF tournaments as every other year but there will also be the world’s most prestigious no gi grappling tournament too; ADCC 2024. Along with major promotions like Polaris and Who’s Number One putting even more effort into staging huge events, this means that there should be no shortage of incredible matches this year. Even out of all the fun potential matchups this year, there are a few that stand out among the rest.
5 BJJ Matches We’d Love To See In 2024
There are going to be hundreds of fantastic BJJ matches throughout 2024 and many of them will likely come from unpredictable sources. There are some pairings of elite competitors that are almost guaranteed to produce fireworks though, just by the nature of how their styles match up. There’s even fewer of those matches that have some interesting background or the potential to set up a long storyline, creating an even higher level of anticipation if they were ever announced. These 5 matches are ideal main event battles for any promotion to generate a ton of interest and would likely be candidates for ‘Match of the Year’ at the JitsMagazine BJJ Awards.
Mica Galvao v Tainan Dalpra 2
This would easily be one of the biggest BJJ matches of 2024 because both Tainan Dalpra and Mica Galvao are the very best of the current generation of grapplers and they have both been on another level than most of the competition they face. Dalpra currently has a 74-2 record with 54 submission wins at black belt, while Galvao is 79-6 with 61 submission wins. The two have actually met once before back at Evolve Ur Game 2 in 2021, where Galvao won by decision and became the first person to beat Dalpra at black belt. The combination of the history between them and the fact that this could be the next step in an epic rivalry across their careers would make this match one to look forward to.
There’s actually a very good chance that Tainan Dalpra v Mica Galvao are among the matches we get to see at some point in 2024, because there’s several different BJJ promotions it could take place under now. They used to inhabit slightly different weight classes but Galvao has recently moved up to middleweight for IBJJF competition, drastically increasing the chances that they cross paths there. While Dalpra was originally solely a gi competitor, he also made his no gi debut last year and with such an impressive performance, he’ll quickly become a staple competitor for Who’s Number One if he wants to be. Last but not least, he may even earn an invite to ADCC 2024 where he would be competing in the same division as Galvao.
Gabrieli Pessanha v Nathiely De Jesus 2
Gabrieli Pessanha is the undisputed queen of the gi in the women’s divisions, having won the double IBJJF for two years in a row and going undefeated across that time. Before her rise to the top, Nathiely De Jesus was ruling over the absolute division as a heavyweight and between these two women, they have won every absolute gold medal from the IBJJF World Championship since 2018. Pessanha won their first match in 2020 and in hindsight it was a real changing of the guard moment, signalling her rise to the top of the sport. Since then, De Jesus has taken time away from competition to become a mother and has returned just as impressive as ever before. Not only would this be a great match between two elite competitors, but De Jesus stands out as the biggest threat to Pessanha’s incredible winning streak.
Although Gabrieli Pessanha v Nathiely De Jesus would probably have to happen in the absolute division, it’s still one of the more likely of these BJJ matches to happen in 2024. Both women have made a habit of competing in the absolute division throughout their careers so all it really takes is for both of them to compete in the same IBJJF major. Outside of that, Pessanha has already revealed that she is making the transition to no gi in 2024 so they might meet at ADCC provided they both receive invites. Even without that happening, it’s not hard to imagine Pessanha eventually challenging De Jesus for the WNO title she won last year.
Nicky Rodriguez v Nicholas Meregali
Although a potential BJJ match between Nicky Rodriguez and Nicholas Meregali doesn’t have the same chance of fast-paced action as most of the other matches on this list for 2024, it’s probably got the most interesting story behind it. Rodriguez has the obvious rivalry with Gordon Ryan, but he’s also been quietly racking up wins against his teammates at New Wave Jiu-Jitsu too. He has submitted both Luke Griffith and Dan Manasoiu in EBI overtime over the last two years and a win over Meregali might be just the thing he needs to really start angling for that rematch with Gordon Ryan again. Add in the fact that these two men happen to be the very best competitors in the heavier weight classes after Ryan and this would be a fantastic matchup.
It’s not hard to imagine a promotion like Who’s Number One or UFC Fight Pass Invitational managing to book these two as a main event, but it also hasn’t happened yet for one reason or another. They should both be at ADCC 2024 as well, although Rodriguez will compete at over 99kg and Meregali most likely at under 99kg. That means that the biggest chance of this match happening is in the absolute division of ADCC 2024, but that relies on both men being allowed to enter and on them beating whoever they face before one another. There’s clearly a way for this to work, but it feels like a lot needs to go right for fans to see them meet on the mats.
Dorian Olivarez v Diogo Reis
Dorian Olivarez rightfully won ‘Breakthrough Grappler of the Year’ at the JitsMagazine BJJ Awards 2023 as a result of his incredible performances during 2023 and despite being just a teenager, he’s easily one of the best competitors in the lighter weight classes. His relentless pace and phenomenal wrestling make him such a tough match for even the most seasoned competitors, but Diogo Reis is the reigning ADCC champion for a reason. The stylistic clash between these them would be phenomenal to watch and it would be very interesting to see who begins to burn out first when two of the fastest grapplers with insane cardio meet on the mats.
Unfortunately this is one of the few BJJ matches that only really has one decent chance of coming to fruition in 2024. Olivarez is such a young talent that it’s unlikely for him to be able to face a known name like Reis in a single superfight, unless Polaris or another major promotion host an under 70kg tournament that includes both of them in the lineup. That doesn’t seem particularly likely either, but Olivarez did win ADCC Trials last year to earn an invite to ADCC 2024 and will compete at 66kg where Reis is the champion. As the champion is seeded first and ADCC Trials winners are usually seeded lowest, there’s a decent chance they actually meet in the first two rounds.
Kade Ruotolo v Dante Leon
Dante Leon has been on a fantastic streak over the last year and has only lost two matches since ADCC 2022, both of them coming in the absolute division. He has really solidified him as one of the top competitors in his weight class after winning a bronze medal back then, whereas Kade Ruotolo has gone in the other direction. He made history by becoming the youngest champion when he won gold at ADCC 2022 but since then he’s only competed three times and only one of those matches was against a BJJ competitor. The two men haven’t faced one another before but Leon has a 1-1 record against Tye Ruotolo, so it would be great to see him against Kade instead this time.
Nothing is impossible, but Kade Ruotolo v Dante Leon is one of the most unlikely BJJ matches in 2024. Ruotolo is currently under contract with ONE Championship and Leon has shown no signs of moving over there, so they’re simply not going to meet under any promotion. Leon often competes at higher weight classes for IBJJF events and Ruotolo does not enter them regularly, so the only chance of them meeting is at ADCC 2024. As returning medalists they will both get invites but will be seeded as such and cannot meet until the semi-finals at the earliest, if Leon even chooses to stay in the under 77kg division. The only way this match happens is if Leon stays at that weight and they both make it onto the second day of the tournament at the very least.
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