Gordon Ryan made his long-awaited return to grappling competition at a Who’s Number One event opposite UFC fighter Phillip Rowe in an exhibition match under specific rules. There would be no actual winner declared regardless of what happened during the match and a submission wouldn’t end it either, instead the two grappled over a fifteen minute period and each submission just resulted in the action being restarted from a neutral standing position. The unusual ruleset had a clear effect on the pace of the match itself as both men were far more relaxed and playful than you would see in any other competitive Jiu-Jitsu match.
This match was the exception to the rest of the event however, as the other matches staged for Who’s Number One were all contested under their traditional ruleset and two of them even featured titles being put on the line. It was an unusual choice to have the more relaxed match between Gordon Ryan and Phillip Rowe serve as the main event instead of the action-packed contests that supported it, but it does make sense when considering that Ryan’s temporary retirement was one of the biggest items of news this year.
Don’t expect this to be the start of a return to normality however, because Ryan has already confirmed that he won’t be taking on any actual matches in the near future as a result of the same stomach condition that forced him into early retirement. One thing is certain however, Ryan will be competing in at least one professional Jiu-Jitsu match in 2022 as he’s already agreed to compete against Andre Galvao for the superfight championship at the ADCC world championships. Aside from that match, the rest of Ryan’s career is up in the air and there’s no news yet on whether he will compete anywhere else although ADCC head organizer Mo Jassim did state previously that he was considering allowing Ryan to compete in his weight-class at ADCC 2022 as well.
The full fifteen-minute exhibition match between Gordon Ryan and Phillip Rowe was uploaded to the official YouTube channel of FloGrappling: