ADCC organizer Mo Jassim dropped a bombshell on the grappling community when he posted on his Instagram that superfight champion, Andre Galvao, is up for defending his title at ADCC 2022, In Las Vegas. Galvao did announce that ADCC 2019 would be his last time competing, but after he defeated Felipe Pena, he cast doubt on this retirement by facing off with the absolute champion, and next in line for a shot at the title, Gordon Ryan. The Brazilian seemed very happy entertaining the idea of the matchup but didn’t ever fully commit, until recently. Since the two initially first faced off in September 2019, much has happened between the two respectively to hype up the possible matchup. Most notably “the slappening” incident back in February.
Now however everything is up in the air again with Ryan announcing his indefinite absence from competing, due to an undiagnosed stomach issue. So, with the potential need for a different opponent for Galvao’s superfight, here is a list of three suiters to face the champ if Ryan is unable to.
First up, and who seems to be the most obvious choice, is Buchecha. He was runner-up in the absolute division of ADCC 2019, losing to Ryan by a negative penalty point. He has also won the over 99kg division on two occasions in 2013 and 2017. Galvao and Buchecha have faced up in the gi before with Buchecha getting the better of Galvao all but once. The two however have never fought nogi, so it would be a fresh matchup that we have never seen before between two of the very best to ever do it. Buchecha will have a big size advantage if the two were to matchup, being 6’3” and 240lbs, compared to Galvao at 5’9” and 200lbs. Buchecha also happens to be the favored matchup for ADCC organizer Mo Jassim, saying: “for me personally I think Buchecha v Galvao would make the most sense”. However, Jassim can only make recommendations and doesn’t get the final say on who will fill in. Buchecha has recently stepped away from gi competition to pursue a career in MMA but has stated if he was offered the fight against Galvao he would take it.
Another interesting replacement possibility is Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu. They have already competed in a superfight together in 2015, where Galvao won on points. In 2019 Cyborg had an unusual ADCC, where he had the chance to fight for the bronze medal in the over 99kg division but refused too, because of the judges’ decision to give Nick Rodriguez the win over him in their semifinal match. He also didn’t compete in the absolute. Since the last ADCC he has been on tremendous form, going 16-1-1, winning the stacked Kasai 264lb Grand Prix, nogi worlds over 97kg gold and Third Coast Grappling Kumite IV. In this recent run he also holds a victory via heel hook over Kaynan Duarte, who would no doubt be number one choice to fill in for Ryan if he wasn’t Galvao’s student. Although Galvao won the first fight in a convincing manner, Cyborg now looks the best he ever has and I’m sure it would be a more competitive affair.
Finally, to a teammate of Ryan, and a more like for like replacement would be Craig Jones. “Mr. number 2” himself kept his reputation up as the nearly man at ADCC 2019, earning silver in the 88kg division. He didn’t get the chance to compete in the absolute because of an eye infection that affected him through the tournament. Despite this unfortunate curse, Jones would pose a great threat to Galvao’s title, being a prolific finisher with 84% of his wins coming by submission. On his day the Australian looks invincible, making world class blackbelts look like hobbyists, dispatching them effortlessly in seconds. If Jones turns up on the day and performs in the way he has shown, there is a great possibility he could take the title. Along with this he would be a fan favorite pick.
For me, these three are the most likely candidates, but there could be another fairer way a challenger is decided… a tournament. Another absolute tournament would make the most sense to decide on the best man to fight Galvao, and that is what the superfight is all about, the best fighting the best. A tournament would leave no doubt as to who is most worthy. It would also create some more interest and hype around the superfight that will be lost if Ryan doesn’t compete, given the challenger would have proved themselves and there would be no question that they are the right man. However, this is unlikely, every time before when a replacement has been needed a fight, or fighter has been selected by the organizers. A tournament like this could have the effect of undermining the actual ADCC event, which is something the organizers wouldn’t want, so would be unlikely to be done. Also, there is the problem that the Galvao and Ryan fight may still go ahead, then you would have to disappoint the winner of the tournament and that wouldn’t be fair.
The dates for ADCC 2022 are yet to be announced but Jassim is set to go on Ricardo Ammendolia’s podcast and give dates as well as more information about the event, possibly even the potential replacement for Ryan.