In a shocking turn of events, Gordon Ryan has turned up at the ADCC North American East Coast trials at the very last minute in order to compete in the over 99kg division. He is the reigning ADCC world champion in both the under 99kg and the absolute division, so it is incredibly unusual to see anyone of his stature choosing to compete at a trials event instead of simply getting invited to the event. In fact, historically the absolute champion would only return at the next ADCC world championships to challenge for the superfight championship, something Ryan will be doing against Andre Galvao at ADCC 2022.
It’s unusual mainly because any returning champion is virtually guaranteed an invite back at the following edition to defend their title. When Gordon Ryan steps onto the mats at the ADCC North American East Coast trials however, there will be a ticket to the world championships on the line in each weightclass. It’s worth noting however that ADCC head organizer Mo Jassim previously stated that he was looking into the idea of allowing Ryan to compete in his weight division at the 2022 edition, so this might be his way of earning that opportunity.
Alternatively, it may be the case that the invite will be given to whoever makes their way to the final of the trials opposite Ryan in the likely event that he emerges victorious. There’s still a long way to go before that and despite Ryan’s dominance in the no gi grappling world, his victory is not a foregone conclusion. There is a huge field of elite competitors standing in his way and one in particular that fans will be excited to see him cross paths with; NCAA All-American Pat Downey, who has been making waves on the professional grappling scene lately.
Tom DeBlass, who is both a training partner of Gordon Ryan and the organizer for the ADCC North American East Coast trials, announced the news that Ryan was competing in the 99kg division in a post to his official Instagram account: