Gordon Ryan and Felipe Pena are just three months away from the next stage of the pair’s epic rivalry, as match number 4 in the series has now been booked for a Who’s Number One event on February 25th. The pair first met all the way back in 2016 for a superfight at a Studio 540 event where Pena managed to lock up a rear-naked choke to become the first and, to date, the only person to submit Ryan in competition. They crossed paths once again at ADCC 2017 in the final of the absolute division, shortly after Ryan had won gold at 88kg and Pena had earned a silver medal at 99kg. Pena won that match again but was unable to finish Ryan this time, and instead registered a victory by a six-point margin to win gold in the absolute division.
This meant that Pena held a 2-0 record against Ryan in competition and many of his fans held this as a mark against Ryan, despite him putting on an incredible display at ADCC 2019 to become the organization’s latest double-champion. After years of back-and-forth both in social media and even in public interviews that the pair of men gave, FloGrappling finally managed to book a third match between them. The men even put more than their reputations on the line for the bout too, as they agreed to a bet of $10,000 of Pena’s money against $100,000 of Ryan’s for the match.
Things took a dark turn however when a BJJ legend and close friend of Pena’s, Leandro Lo, was murdered the night before their match was scheduled to take place. The match did go ahead in the end and Pena ended up verbally submitting at around the forty-five-minute mark of their no time-limit match, with Ryan bringing the score up to 2-1. That wasn’t without controversy however, as Pena originally blamed Ryan and Pena for the match going ahead despite him losing his friend shortly before, while Ryan accused him of using the situation to extort more money from FloGrappling in order for him to compete. FloGrappling attempted to mediate the situation and tell their side of the story, although the public was left no closer to knowing the full truth of the events.
This wasn’t the only match where money would be on the line either, as the pair agreed to the exact same bet for another potential match that could take place at ADCC 2022 after Pena moved up in weight to over 99kg in order to be in the same division as Ryan. The pair were originally on course to meet in the division’s final after they both won their first two matches on day 1 of the event, but Nicky Rodriguez put a stop to that by defeating Pena on points in the semi-final on day 2. Despite not getting to level the score with match number 4 at ADCC 2022, it seems like Ryan will now be getting the chance to do so in the headline fight of an upcoming WNO event on February 25th.
Gordon Ryan v Felipe Pena 4 isn’t the only match announced for the Who’s Number One event though, and the co-main event shortly before it will also be an interesting rematch. Ryan’s newest teammate Nicholas Meregali will be taking on B-Team’s Craig Jones after the pair originally met in the semi-final of the under 99kg division at ADCC 2022. While it was an incredibly exciting match with plenty of back-and-forth action, it was Jones who emerged victorious with a judge’s decision at the event and the pair shared the podium later in second and third place.
The full Who’s Number One: Gordon Ryan v Felipe Pena 4 event will be available to watch live on February 25th on FloGrappling, click here to subscribe and watch.