SEPTEMBER 19, 2022, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, USA. The greatest submission-grappling event of the year – the ADCC World Championship – has, sadly, ended, but in it, we were able to discern who the finest grapplers on the land currently are.
With a truly grandiose and groundbreaking production, worthy of the top-tier sporting event that is the ADCC World Championship, and a filled-out Thomas & Mack Center Arena, jiu-jitsu fans were delivered a tournament that raised the bar higher than any other events had done in the past. This fact is greatly owed to the efforts of the show’s top promoter, Mo Jasim, who dedicated himself fully to the delivery of this incredible spectacle over the last 3 years.
The event had many interesting moments and upsets. Arguably the biggest of upsets came by way of Eoghan O’Flanagan, a UK-based athlete who made his way through to the ADCC tournament by winning the European Qualifiers. Eoghan was not particularly well-known prior to the event, having never conquered any major shows on an international stage but made a big mark in his first match with a dominant win over former 2x ADCC champion Alexandre Ribeiro (who announced his retirement after the clash). Not content with dethroning a legend, O’Flanagan went on to defeat one of the division’s favorites, Mason Fowler via submission before succumbing to Giancarlo Bodoni in the semi-finals via footlock.
Another European talent that came to shake things up was Sam McNally of Ireland. The ECBJJ featherweight surprised everyone at the event with a solid win over one of the favorites of the 66KG division, John Danaher student Garry Tonon via points. McNally lost in the quarter-finals via a decision to Josh Cisneros.
Despite the many historic matches, the biggest winner of the night was Gordon Ryan, who made history this weekend with a gold medal in the +99 kilogram division and victory in the super-fight, achievements that had never been done at the same time in the event’s history. All of Ryan’s matches were dominant wins for the Jersey native that proved he is indeed the best in the world. Equally impressive was Kade Ruotolo who had a 100% submission run at 77 kg, with which he became the youngest ever ADCC World Champion. Below is a short description of each individual weight class of the 2022 Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) Worlds.
WHO MADE IT TO THE ADCC SEMI-FINALS?
– Invited Athletes: 17
– South American Trials Winners: 4
– North American Trials Winners: 4
– 2019 Champions: 3
– European Trials Winners: 1
– Oceania & Asia Trials Winners: 0
ADCC 2022 – CHAMPIONS
Male 66KG: Diogo Reis BRA / Fight Sports
Male 77KG: Kade Ruotolo USA / Atos
Male 88KG: Giancarlo Bodoni USA / New Wave
Male 99KG: Kaynan Duarte BRA / Atos
Male +99KG: Gordon Ryan USA / New Wave
Male Open: Yuri Simões BRA / CTA
Superfight: Gordon Ryan USA / New Wave
Female 60KG: Ffion Davies WAL / Essential JJ
Female +60KG: Amy Campo USA / Zenith
Not a single dull moment in this stacked 145 lb division, every match was an absolute war with very interesting style clashes throughout the event. One of the most interesting runs to follow was that of Gabriel Sousa who went through the “gauntlet” here, beating Ruan Alvarenga in a wonderful back-and-forth match and later completely shutting down the well-known leg-locking prowess of Jeremy Skinner before the semi-finals against another tremendous leg-locker in Diego Oliveira (Pato) who, himself, had a superb run to the semi-finals, showing his finishing power twice.
All semi-finalists had incredible runs to Day 2, facing some of the top feather and light-featherweight competitors in the world. Truly wonderful to watch this weight class unfold.
In the final we saw the two most worthy athletes at 66 make it through. Both Gabriel Sousa and “Baby Shark” Diogo Reis looked a class above the rest out there this weekend, Sousa displaying the antidote for leg-lockers and Reis spreading flair and technique on those Las Vegas mats. Smooth as butter, Reis used his overall game to shut Sousa down, scoring from his takedowns and protecting the advantage with slick guard maintenance work as Sousa threw everything but the kitchen sink at him to no avail. With this win, 20YO Reis won his first ADCC tournament, becoming one of the youngest champions in the promotion.
Another thrilling division to follow with no easy nor boring matches and many submissions. PJ Barch brought forth one of the tournament’s biggest upsets in the quarter-finals by scoring on the 2019 champion, JT Torres, via double leg takedown. Torres hadn’t been scored on at an ADCC tournament for over a decade. Despite his tremendous run on the first day of the tournament, Barch could not continue his success on Day 2, losing his semi-final and bronze medal place match via armbar.
Equally fun to follow was Kade Ruotolo who submitted his way through to the second day of the tournament, with fellow teenage phenom Mica Galvão putting forth equally entertaining wins over Oliver Taza and Renato Canuto.
On the second day, we had amazing semi-finals with the two youngest athletes in the division making it through. One of the bizarre moments of the day, however, came in the Mica Galvao x Dante Leon match when, with just over one minute to the end of the clash, Dante appeared to have scored on Galvão with a double leg takedown. The scoreboard showed the points and Leon was adamant he had the match secured to take it into a referee decision only to have those points removed AFTER the buzzer announced the end of the clash, a very unfortunate decision that truly diminished Dante’s chances of victory as he could have strategized better for that final minute, had he known the real score.
In the match everyone wanted to see, the clash of the teenagers resulted in an excellent bout with both athletes exchanging takedown attempts and submission attacks. Most of the submission attempts were initiated by Galvão, working from the bottom, but it was while attacking Kade’s foot that he left his own unattended. The Atos lightweight took the opportunity and jumped on a “loose” foot of Galvão, finishing the Brazilian grappler and becoming the youngest ever ADCC champion in the process, at the age of 19.
With his win, Kade also made it to a select group of athletes who won the ADCC World Championships with a 100% submission rate. The only other athletes who have achieved this impressive deed were Alexandre Soca, Jean Jacques Machado, Marcelo Garcia, and Roger Gracie.
Britain’s Eoghan O’Flanagan was, likely, the breakthrough competitor of the tournament. Fairly unknown, the savvy guard-player took out two of the tournament’s biggest names in Xande Ribeiro (pts) and Mason Fowler (submission) as he advanced to day two where he clashed with another breakthrough athlete, Giancarlo Bodoni.
One of the best matches of the event was that of teammates Josh Hinger and Tye Ruotolo. Neither of these athletes was willing to let their chance of ADCC gold go away. Pushing the pace all the way through from start to finish, this match ended with Hinger’s hand being raised via points after the veteran turned the tables on the young talent in the final moments. Josh lost in the semi-finals to Lucas Hulk via points.
The final between New Wave’s Giancarlo Bodoni and Atos’ Lucas Barbosa saw a very even match in the early stages of the bout with both athletes successfully exchanging takedowns. As time went on Barbosa started fading away while Bodoni got stronger, dynamics that persisted until the end when a quick back take led to a finish via RNC. A beautiful performance for the American athlete who was making his ADCC debut and proved to be at the top of the game, running through seasoned veterans like it was just another day at the office.
– Vagner Rocha def. Eoghan O’Flanagan via toe hold
Veteran Rafael Lovato Jr. had a very fun first day taking out his two tough opponents with great class, including 2019 silver medalist Vinicius Ferreira, while Nicholas Meregali came in as a disruptor with two hard-fought wins over Henrique Cardoso and former champ Yuri Simões as he advanced to the second day of the event. The division’s favorites Kaynan Duarte and Craig Jones breezed through to the semi-finals.
After a hard-fought semi-final loss to Kaynan and a hard-fought loss in the third place match to Nicholas Meregali, veteran Lovato Junior announced his retirement from the ADCC tournament, an event he had placed 2nd back in 2013 and made it to the semi-finals on 4 occasions (2009, 2011, 2013, 2017).
In the final match between Kaynan Duarte and Craig Jones we saw a dominant performance by the Brazilian grappler who took Jones down twice, passed the guard three (3) times, achieved knee on belly once, and mount another three (3) times. Maybe the most disturbing part of this clash was how the group of referees in charge of overseeing this bout persistently penalized Duarte for inactivity, in a manner that borderlined harassment, with a total of 7 penalty points (!) awarded to the Brazilian. Truly bizarre and heavy-handed decision against an athlete who passed one of the toughest guards in the world not once but three times and scored several other points throughout the match. Venting aside, this was a great performance by Duarte.
A tremendous Day 1 for #1 seed, Gordon Ryan who cruised through Heikki Jussila and Victor Hugo as Rida Haisam shocked the grappling world with a first-round submission over Roberto Abreu. The African player did fall short in the second round of the tournament, losing to Brazil’s Roosevelt Sousa as Nick Rodriguez and Felipe Pena had equally easy days on their run to the semi-finals.
As if he could not impress the crowd any further with how easy he had made the first 2 opponents look, on the second day of competition Ryan made it look even easier, with two quick submissions that might have not amassed 1 full minute of mat time. What a performance! The only man Ryan did not submit at +99 was Victor Hugo, an athlete he dominated in the quarter-finals of the tournament but did not score the submission.
What a run by Yuri Simões, one of the legends of modern day ADCC. After a title at 88 and 99-kg, the Brazilian took gold in the open with wins over Lachlan Giles, Nick Rodriguez, Cyborg and Meregali.
– Tye Ruotolo won bronze medal via Abreu forefeit.
A very strong display by Gordon Ryan who started the match being taken down by Galvão but quickly established top position and from there it was a systematic attack to Galvão’s defenses. Half-guard pressure, forcing André to make mistakes and force his back on his way to the submission. Overall, this was the hardest match of the night for Ryan, nevertheless a very dominant win by the American who, for the first time, won a superfight match and his weight class.
No big upsets on day 1 in the female 60-kilogram division as all major players advanced on to the semi-finals of the tournament where things finally heated up with one huge upset by way of Brianna Ste.-Marie of Canada, who took out the 2019 champion, Bianca Basilio in the last 10 seconds of their match via mount position, a tremendous performance by the North American Trials winner.
In the final Brianna bumped into 2019’s silver medalist Ffion Davies, making the first ever Wales x Canada final in the ADCC. The match was beautifully technical, but also a grind, with both athletes exchanging in takedowns and sweeps. The differences between the two grapplers started becoming more apparent as time passed on and as Ffion pressed the action, conquering big scoring positions on the Canadian during the second half of the match for a winning performance.
A fun division to follow saw USA’s Kendall Reusing defeat one of the rising stars of South America, Giovanna Jara. Jara had a strong start, taking down the former folkstyle wrestler but faded as time passed on, a deciding factor the Gracie Barra superheavyweight took full advantage of, submitting the Dream Art athlete with seconds to end the match.
The division’s most well-known challenger, Gabrielle Garcia had an easy first day at the tournament, bulldozing through Nikki Griffiths but could not repeat the deed against the incredibly talented US Trials winner, Amy Campo. Despite being a rookie black belt, the Zenith Team representative showed great composure in her clash with the former ADCC champ, stealing the win right before overtime with a beautiful arm-drag takedown that placed her in the final. Rafaela Guedes (Atos) was also successful at reaching the final via takedown, but in this case, the match was shorter as her opponent, Kendall Reusing got injured from the exchange and was forced to forfeit.
The final of the 60-plus weight class was a barn burner, with both these athletes leaving all on the mat. Takedowns, sweeps, and lots of action were what we saw from the two grapplers. Campo was particularly impressed with her relentless aggression from all angles, takedowns, sweeps, and guard passing pressure, were what Amy brought to the table, and she brought it in droves. The young American started the second half period of the match (when points were added) losing by two points from a bad guard pull and spent the rest of the match chasing her points, accomplishing this in the last 20 seconds of the clash. A nail biter!
– Gabrielle Garcia conquers bronze medal as Reusing was unable to compete.