The distance between gi and nogi jiu-jitsu is getting longer than ever before, this is palpable in many aspects of the game, one of which being nogi’s bowld steps towards professionalism much against the will of the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF).
The majority of nogi shows today are set under the superfight and submission-only modules, with a few rare exceptions, and most are geared towards live streaming. The gi world, on the other hand, is following the path of amateur leagues such as the IBJJF or the UEAJJF who provide competitive, international tournament circuits. Although both these leagues do pay a few of their athletes, these are few and far between. Generally speaking, the only event still pushing for fully paid line-ups which include kimono matches are Figh 2 Win and sporadically Polaris Invitational.
For full disclosure, it is worth noting that we at BJJ Heroes do follow both sports with great interest and are fans of all aspects of jiu-jitsu. There are very few matches from each of submission-grappling’s streams that we do not watch with great enthusiasm. However, if we were to choose a favorite, that would likely be the gi, for pure entertainment. Although our views might be ever so slightly skewed towards the gi, we are certainly not oblivious to the numbers and undoubtedly this year’s ADCC was the greatest grappling event in the history of the sport.
When it comes to the highs, no-gi rules grappling, looking at Google’s keyword statistics over the past 12 months (below), the ADCC tournament dwarfed the IBJJF World Championship (gis biggest event) in numbers of search queries, meaning that more people have been looking for ADCC information over the course of a year.
The ADCC brand has always carried plenty of power, but, judging by our experience analyzing BJJ data over the past 6 or 7 years, the difference in numbers between the Mundial and the ADCC has never been even close to these numbers.
Much of this incredible surge in ADCC’s popularity this year has come down to the wonderful promotional work done by the tournament’s organizers and FloGrappling – the streaming company, who spared no efforts in lifting the event higher than ever before. However, the reality is that when removing the ADCC, no other nogi tournament compares with the World Championship, or the Pan American Championship search queries, as reflected on the search data below.
The data here is corroborated by our own website’s analytic numbers, as are our internal search queries and page views. Athlete star-power wise, gi and nogi follow a very similar pattern to that of the tournament scene.
When looking into Google’s search terms report again, Dillon Danis and Gordon Ryan take the bulk of grappling athlete’s searches, with Garry Tonon and Keenan Cornelius behind with very even numbers. The likelihood that Craig Jones’ numbers are indeed much closer to those of Garry and Keenan than shown in the graph is likely. Unfortunately for our research, Jones shares his name with a famous musician – keyboardist of the famous metal band Slipknot, therefore we added the word “BJJ” to Jones’ search, which has likely diminished his search quota.
Removing the 3 big names of nogi (Gordon, Craig, and Garry), or better yet, removing anyone from the Danaher Death Squad and the nogi industry’s star power is severely weakened, with Lachlan Giles’ being the sole top 10 searched athlete, a position achieved thanks to his incredible surge in searches after this past ADCC’s open weight bronze medal.
After doing extensive research over the top 100 athletes in our sport, gi, and nogi, per google search queries, only 3 nogi competitors made the list, who weren’t part of DDS’s crew: Lachlan Giles, Geo Martinez, and Richie Martinez. Take into account that this report is based on US searches, the results change substantially in favor of the gi if we change the search source to Brazil.
According to the research we displayed on this article, the results seem to indicate that, although the Danaher Death Squad certainly seems to have a stranglehold over the sport’s overall popularity, nogi as a sport, is still behind the gi, popularity-wise.