It’s on, the unlikely match everyone was secretly hoping for is set for March 28, 2021. That the clash between 4x ADCC female champion, Gabrielle Garcia (70-6-0) and male ADCC silver medalist Craig Jones (48-16-2). Yes, you read it right, an inter-gender match, under submission-only rules (no time-limit), between two of the best submission grapplers on the planet. The match is real and has been confirmed by both parties to take place at Garcia’s gym, being streamed live and likely for free, to all interested – which should be nearly everyone.
Although bizarre, this is very likely the most anticipated no-gi match-up of 2021. Gordon Ryan has been the driving force of this ruleset for the past few years and, although promoters have tried their hardest to hype the John Danaher pupil’s match-ups, he is unrivaled in the sport right now and matches have not been competitive. Realistically, the only matches that matter for us, the fans, are Ryan x André Galvão or Felipe Pena, which seem to be reserved for the 2022 edition of the ADCC (a long time away).
When it comes to name recognition, Australia’s Craig Jones is the #2 to his teammate Gordon. In the female division, Gabi Garcia is by far the biggest draw. Alliance’s Garcia has been very vocal in calling out male athletes over the past few weeks and finally it seems as though someone took the bait. Garcia is around 40 lbs heavier than Jones and a very physical grappler, therefore, this is not as lopsided as one could think, from a physical stand-point.
Although certainly out of the box, this is not the first time Gabi Garcia’s name has circulated for a possible inter-gender match. Back in 2013, Gabrielle mentioned the ADCC promotion had run the thought past her management for a challenge in the male +99 kilogram division, due to the sheer dominance Garcia had shown in the female category.
This is also not the first time a biological female competes against a man. We remember a challenge between Mackenzie Dern and a male judoka many years ago at a Japanese television show. Although a friendly match then, the competitiveness appeared to be real. At the time, Dern submitted the judo personality. Nevertheless, he was not a top-tier athlete, this match-up between Craig and Gabi certainly takes it up a notch (or ten).