Gordon Ryan has now unfortunately pulled out from his fourth match with Felipe Pena at the upcoming Who’s Number One event scheduled for February 25th, 2023 and Nicky Rodriguez has stepped in to replace him. The withdrawal comes on incredibly short notice, as the match between the two is supposed to headline the event less than two days from now. According to everyone involved, the reason that Ryan has withdrawn from the match is because of stomach issues that he has suffered over the past week, although it is apparently unrelated to the chronic stomach issues that have plagued his career in the past.
Gordon Ryan gave the following statement about his withdrawal from the match with Felipe Pena and the replacement fight against Nicky Rodriguez on social media:
“Well i guess I am going to post this now, since specifically asked me to not post anything 2 days ago when i told them I couldn’t compete and assured me they would let me know when it was going public so I could also make a post about it but then just posted it hours ago without telling me anything. Thanks guys, you handled that perfectly, as always. This is one of the tougher decisions I’ve ever had to make, but it’s the right one. Not really sure where to start, so I’ll start by saying that I can’t compete on Saturday. As much as I want to even the score, my body is giving me some issues. Last Wed, after hard rounds for my peak, I got home and developed severe body aches and a migrain. I slept almost straight from Wed afternoon until Friday night, running a 100-102.5 fever while not being able to eat anything and sweating with the chills. Saturday, my body came back online and I was able to do regular, low intensity things like a normal person and wasn’t bed ridden anymore.”
“My fever subsided but I still had a fuzzy head, headache, and body aches. I also started having severe diarrhea on Saturday but figured since my fever was gone I was getting better. Wed-sat I couldn’t train and when I did a light round Sunday I was in terrible shape again on Monday. Monday I did a light session in LA and was in terrible shape again on Tues. On top of this, I spent the whole week not being able to eat and the last 5 days with severe diarrhea every 30 minutes. I did literally everything I could to be there for this match. I even scheduled a before hours appointment with my stomach doctor to see if there’s anything he could do to help, but he said it was almost certainly viral and would just have to run it’s course. I’ve also been taking 1 IV bag a day for the last 4 days to try to keep up with the loss of fluids but I’m still so severely dehydrated now that my legs are cramping from walking up a flight of stairs. This issue (unrelated to my chronic stomach issues) has completely drained my body over the last week and I’ve lost roughly 15 lbs.”
“I did everything I could to get there but ultimately john and I decided that the professional thing to do was call it and give pena and the team time to figure out next steps. I have messaged pena directly to relay this as well as my apologies. I know how much time he put into this and I fully expected to have the best pena ever out there to compete against and giving him (or anyone) this version of me isnt an option. Btw- he didnt accept my apology. I really wish I could just force flo to pay me more so I’d feel better like he did but it’s weird, it doesn’t seem to work like that for me. It’s very frustrating because this was a very good camp. There were some speed bumps along the way but I was technically far better than ever. I have some things I’ve been working on and they all came together perfectly through the camp. I was also in the best physical condition I’ve ever been in as well, so to do this hard 8 weeks and feel better than ever and then having this happen is rough, to say the least.”
“Of course, to the fans as well, I am very sorry. I made the mistake of facing pena sick in our 1st match and I swore to never do that again. I have competed (2019 ADCC) with food poisoning (and a broken hand) that I came down with the day before hand but this one has been eating at me for a week and I simply have nothing left for a hard match at the moment. Michael Jordan had the luxury of being able to have a bad game without being too harshly criticized In a team sport. I unfortunately do not have that luxury. While this was a very tough decision, it was the correct one. I hate to be this guy and I am beside myself even having to write this, but sometimes it just is what it is. I will keep everyone updated here on what’s next. Sorry again. Ps- good news- Who’s Number Two now has a new match for pena- nicky fraud. The battle of the “has been” vs the “has never”. Can’t wait to see my 2 valentines compete for not 1st place.”
Even though the loss of Ryan is a huge blow to the event and his match with Pena was the main attraction, the show will still go on. The rest of the card was absolutely stacked with elite grapplers in order to support the monumental match, so it’s still an entertaining event regardless. Fortunately for fans, Felipe Pena is still competing in the main event and Gordon Ryan is going to be replaced by Nicky Rodriguez. This will actually be another rematch as the pair recently met at in the semi-final of the over 99kg division at ADCC 2022, where Rodriguez defeated Pena on points. The rest of the card will remain the same as their most recent announcement and the co-main event will still be the Giancarlo Bodoni v Pedro Marinho title-fight. Ironically that match was actually scheduled to take place at the end of 2022 but was delayed until this event due to an injury suffered by Ryan’s teammate Bodoni.
Gordon Ryan being replaced by Nicky Rodriguez against Felipe Pena isn’t the first blow to the Who’s Number One card on February 25th, 2023 either. In fact, the title-fight between Giancarlo Bodoni and Pedro Marinho was not the first choice for co-main event and the match between them was only rebooked for this event because the original co-main event fell through. Before this the rematch between Craig Jones and Nicholas Meregali was the final match before the main event, but this was also postponed when Jones withdrew from the match. Despite the fact that this card has been plagued by changes to the lineup, it’s still certain to be one of the most exciting fight cards of the year with plenty of elite grappling action from start to finish.
This was after FloGrappling initially announced the news that Gordon Ryan was withdrawing from the match with Felipe Pena and would be replaced by Nicky Rodriguez in a post to their official Instagram account: