Gordon Ryan will be defending his Who’s Number One heavyweight title once again, and he’ll be taking on the challenge from Lucas ‘Hulk’ Barbosa at WNO 21 on November 30th, 2023. The booking has come incredibly quickly after Ryan last defended the title, it was announced on social media almost immediately after he finished submitting Patrick Gaudio at Who’s Number One 20: Night of Champions. It’s clear that the promotion had a lot of faith in Ryan defeating Gaudio, as this match with Barbosa must almost certainly have been in the works prior to that event even taking place.
It makes sense that Ryan might want to pick up the pace towards the end of the year too, as his match against Gaudio was actually the first time that he had stepped on the mats in 2023. It was a flawless performance though, so he was able to show his fans that he hasn’t lost a step despite being out of action for quite some time. Ryan’s health spiraled at the beginning of 2023 and he was left unable to even train at one point, meaning that it took quite some time for him to get back to full health and back into competition shape.
There’s no news on what the rest of the card for Who’s Number One 21 will look like, but the match between Gordon Ryan and Lucas ‘Hulk’ Barbosa will serve as the main event for it. Barbosa will no doubt be eager to prove himself against the world’s greatest no gi grappler, especially as he recently lost to Ryan’s teammate Giancarlo Bodoni at ADCC 2022. This isn’t the first time that Ryan and Barbosa have met on the mats either and they’ve actually crossed paths twice in the past. Ryan won a decision in their first match at Fight 2 Win 30 in 2017, and then won 3-0 on points in the semi-final of the 99kg division at ADCC 2019.
FloGrappling announced the news that Gordon Ryan was defending his heavyweight title against Lucas ‘Hulk’ Barbosa at Who’s Number One 21 in a recent post to their official Instagram account: