Gordon Ryan v Andre Galvao is without a doubt the most hotly-anticipated grappling match in recent memory thanks to their recent altercations, and it’s the biggest clash of names since Roger Gracie returned to compete against Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida in the gi. As it stands, Ryan has managed to stay undefeated since a 2018 match against Vinny Magalhaes and that streak has lasted an incredible forty-five professional matches, including an IBJJF no gi world championship gold medal and a pair of ADCC gold medals. Galvao has been undefeated the same length of time but has been significantly less active with his only appearances coming at ADCC and after recently signed to ONE Championship, although he hasn’t lost under ADCC rules since 2009.
The pair have both been out of action lately so despite how badly fans have wanted this match, there’s been an air of mystery surrounding it. It’s been incredibly hard to predict how the match will go, mostly because it’s been impossible to predict what version of either man will show up at ADCC 2022. Gordon Ryan is incredible, but would a long-term stomach issue prevent him from performing to his best? Andre Galvao is an ADCC Hall of Famer and a grappling legend, but would his status of semi-retirement leave him with too out of practice to keep up with his younger opponent?
We previously took a look at who would have the best chance of ending the Gordon Ryan show at ADCC 2022 and we gave Andre Galvao a 20% chance but recently, we were given a golden opportunity to re-evaluate that in light of the fact that both men returned to active competition on the same weekend. It was made even better by the level of competition they were up against, as both men were facing grapplers who should have had a significant skill and a reasonable size disadvantage when facing them.
Gordon Ryan stepped in on short notice to replace his younger brother Nicky against Jacob Couch at Who’s Number One and while Couch is a fantastic grappler, he competed at 88kg at the ADCC North American Trials and fell just short of booking his place at the world championships. Ryan on the other hand competed at 99kg at ADCC 2019 and will be doing the 99kg+ division in 2022, while also being the favorite to win the world championships.
On the other side of the world, Andre Galvao was facing off against ONE Championship double champion Reinier de Ridder in his debut for the promotion. While de Ridder is an excellent MMA fighter with a high level of grappling skill for the sport, he has never competed at a high level in grappling alone before and has previously competed as low as Middleweight in MMA, or 77kg. Galvao on the other hand has historically competed at either 88kg or 94kg and has only gotten bigger since he stopped having to weigh in for matches at ADCC.
To say that Ryan and Galvao fared differently against their respective opponents would be understating it. Ryan absolutely dominated Crouch from start to finish and it hurt to imagine what Couch was going through as he was being suffocated with top pressure. Once Ryan got in full control it looked as though it was impossible for Couch to get back into the match, Ryan worked his way higher and eventually submitted him with pressure from S-mount as he was sitting back for the armbar.
Galvao on the other hand was much more evenly-matched with his opponent. Not only did he struggle to establish any extended period of top control, but de Ridder also spent his fare share of time working his passing too. The most significant submission attempt of the match came from Galvao attempting to set up a heelhook from the bottom but de Ridder stayed comfortable on top and managed to work his way free with relative ease. The match was declared a draw in the end as there was no judges required at the event to make a decision, and Galvao’s first submission grappling match in over two years was something of an anti-climax.
If these two matches are anything to go by, it’s hard to see any way that Andre Galvao will be able to beat Gordon Ryan. Ryan is notoriously difficult to submit anyway but it looks doubtful that Galvao will be able to get him there in the first place. While it’s possible that Galvao might be able to take Ryan down, without being able to hold him down and secure a dominant position, it becomes unlikely that Galvao will be able to win on points either. With a thirty-minute time-limit in place on their match, it seems like a submission win for Ryan is almost a forgone conclusion at this point.