The preliminary card for WNO 21 on November 30th, 2023 has just been confirmed and the headline match will be between Dominic Mejia and Owen Jones. As always with Who’s Number One events, the main card has been stacked with some of the best grapplers around and the preliminary card is just as impressive. Gordon Ryan will be putting his heavyweight title on the line against Lucas ‘Hulk’ Barbosa in the main event of the night, and he isn’t the only champion defending his belt either. Shortly before that, Rafael Lovato Jr will be challenging Pedro Marinho for the light-heavyweight title in the co-main event.
Before any of these grapplers or the other elite competitors on the main card take to the mats at WNO 21, there is plenty of entertainment on the preliminary card too. The first matchup of the night will see Bellator welterweight veteran Ian Butler taking on B-Team Jiu-Jitsu representative Nick Mataya. That’ll be an interesting matchup but things quickly get even more impressive when the next match starts, as Estevan Martinez is among the best competitors in the lighter weight classes. Caleb Tackett will be facing Martinez in his first Who’s Number One match, a huge opportunity for the young prospect to prove himself.
The third and final match of the preliminary card is the battle between Owen Jones and Dominic Mejia, an interesting clash between two talented veterans of the ADCC ruleset. Mejia only narrowly missed out on winning the ADCC North American East Coast Trials, but he ended up having to settle for a silver medal in the 66kg division. Jones on the other hand managed to go that one step further, as he won 66kg division at the ADCC European, Middle-Eastern, and African Trials. This match wouldn’t look out of place on the main card, and it has some ramifications for the future of professional grappling too.
It’s going to be a great test for Jones, as Mejia has already proven himself to be among the top competitors in the US and a win against him would be a great sign for the recently-promoted brown belt’s chances at ADCC 2024. Mejia on the other hand only had one more chance at winning an invite to ADCC 2024 and although he will be one of the favorites at the next ADCC Trials in North America, getting a win over Jones would be a great way to demonstrate that he’s worth an invite even if he finishes with a silver medal again.