Gordon Ryan has already cemented himself as the greatest no gi grappler of his generation, but ADCC 2024 might be the moment that fans look back on in decades to come as proof of that. He’s already achieved so much, beating the best BJJ competitors that the world has to offer and setting records that will no doubt stand for quite some time. In fact, at ADCC 2022 he became the first grappler to ever compete in a regular weight class and the superfight at the same event. Not only did he win all 5 of his matches, but his gold medal in the over 99kg division made him the first competitor to win 3 different regular weight classes as well.
Even if he never set foot on the mats again, he’s already earned his place in the same group as legends of the sport like Roger Gracie and Marcelo Garcia. It would take at least 6 years of dominance for anyone to even reach the records he’s set, but given that he’s still so early in his career he actually has the chance to make them virtually unbreakable. His superb performances at both ADCC 2019 and ADCC 2022 will still be talked about for quite some time but if he’s given the opportunity to do so, ADCC 2024 may very well become the tournament forever remembered as the time Gordon Ryan did the unthinkable.
He’s been open about his desire to increase the challenge in front of him and there’s really only one way he can do more than he did in 2022. He already has his place booked in the superfight as the reigning champion and he’s proven that he can win a weight class on the same weekend, but he was told that he couldn’t do the absolute division on the same night. This is because the winner of the absolute division is traditionally booked as the next challenger for the superfight title and a grappler winning both leaves no clear challenger for the next edition.
It’s also a huge risk for the promotion because there’s always the possibility that he suffers an injury during any of the bracketed matches and can’t compete in the superfight, or even loses one and takes some of the shine away from it. If Gordon Ryan is allowed to compete in a regular weight class, the absolute division, and defend his superfight title all at ADCC 2024 then the entire event pretty much rests on his shoulders. That’s also why it’s such an appealing idea, as one man would be putting everything on the line against 9 of the world’s best grapplers in one weekend for the first time ever.
Even more attractive is the fact that the achievements Gordon Ryan has had at previous events have set him up for the opportunity to make further history at ADCC 2024. Only two other competitors have ever won 4 ADCC gold medals in regular weight classes, Marcelo Garcia and Gabi Garcia. Another win in a regular weight class brings Ryan level to that record and while he would have to share that title, he’d also have done it before his 30th birthday and would have plenty of time to surpass them.
More importantly, he could become the first person in history to ever win the ADCC absolute division a second time. It’s such a gigantic challenge to win it that, while several competitors have competed in it more than once, none of them have ever stood on top of the podium twice. The opportunity to enter the absolute division again also opens up the chance for Ryan to mirror Roger Gracie’s legendary ADCC 2005 run where he finished all 8 of his opponents by submission.
Then when the dust has settled on every division at ADCC 2024, Gordon Ryan would also put his superfight title on the line and potentially bring his total tally of ADCC titles to 8. Given that Andre Galvao holds the current record at 6, winning even two of these titles would be enough for Ryan to break that record too. There’s truly so much on the line for Ryan to achieve if he enters a weight class, the absolute, and the superfight at ADCC 2024 that the promotion would be crazy not to give him the chance to define his legacy in the sport.
Imagine for a moment that Ryan does do it, he starts by stepping on the mats on the Saturday and submits both of his opponents in the over 99kg division. Then on the Sunday he submits another two elite grapplers to win his 4th weight class and 6th title overall, taking a short break before he comes back for the absolute division. He storms to victory again and submits another 4 elite competitors, winning his second absolute title and his 7th title overall. Only Yuri Simoes remains and after 8 matches Ryan must be exhausted while his opponent his fresh, but he retains the superfight title with another submission and nets his 8th title overall. That career-defining, once-in-a-lifetime moment is something that ADCC shouldn’t pass up and something that Ryan definitely wouldn’t if he’s allowed to do so.
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