DECEMBER 1, 2023, AUSTIN, TEXAS, celebrated another edition of FloGrappling’s Who’s Number One (WNO) show, one of the best and most popular professional jiu-jitsu events in the sport. The event was first scheduled to headline ADCC open weight champion Gordon Ryan vs Lucas Hulk, a match that was canceled due to a rib injury by Ryan during training camp. Ryan was replaced by team-mate Giancarlo Bodoni and the WNO title clash between Pedro Marinho & Rafael Lovato Junior was then pushed towards the main event.
One of the big draws to WNO 21 was the black belt debut of Tainan Dalpra in no-gi. The AOJ ace has been one of the dominant forces of the middleweight division with the gi and many fans were hoping to see him shed the famous white pajamas to see how he would fare in this – more popular – facet of the sport. The answer to this you can find below, in our match report.
– Mick Mataya (B-Team) def. Ian Buttler (10th Planet) via kimura
– Mia Funegra (AOJ) def. Janice Russel (Fight Factory) via armbar
– Reese Lafever (New Wave) def. Estevan Martinez (ZR Team) via unanimous decision
– Owen Jones (Apex / B-Team) def. Dominic Mejia (New Wave) via
– Tainan Dalpra (AOJ) def. Troy Russell (Lovato JJ) via armbar
A total domination by Dalpra who came in hot from the start with a single-leg takedown via arm drag. From side control, de AOJ star went to the mount and from there to the match-ending armbar. A clean sweep.
– Helena Creavar (New Wave) def. Julia Maele (Oxy) via unanimous decision
Incredible performance by the 16-year-old prodigy Helena Crevar against the veteran, Maele. Crevar was on the offense 100% of the time, working mostly from the bottom but also not afraid to sweep and work her passing. Julia showed a lot of grit and a good understanding of how to defend the (many) close-range submission attempts but appeared lost on how to prevent Helena from getting to threatening positions, constantly entering them by her own initiative. The match was, understandably, decided in Helena’s favor.
– Luke Griffith (New Wave) def. Roosevelt Sousa (Fight Sports) via inside heel hook
Lots of action, particularly for two boys weighing north of 253 lbs (115 kg) each. Griffith came stronger with the collar ties, forcing a takedown on Roosevelt. A passing battle ensued with Sousa showing solid guard retention and threatening leg entanglements & triangles from the bottom before being finished by the South African from a 50/50 guard heel hook.
Much like we had discussed and talked about in our Heel Hook Study last week (read here), it was the initiator of the attack who ended up being finished, a very common occurrence in the heel-hook dynamics. At WNO, it was Roosevelt initiated the 50/50 leg entanglement to attack Luke’s foot, but Griffith who was able to counter Sousa and get the finish.
Most matches were entertaining last night but this one was not. 100% standing – which is not necessarily a bad thing – but no dangerous shots/takedowns. The hand fighting was solid from Bodoni, Hulk did his best work from a distance, neither athlete conquering a definitive scoring position.
It is always interesting to watch these two compete in no-gi. Pato was very aggressive from the start and took the match’s tempo in his favor, although Reis had moments of his own. The bout ended with 6 minutes to go on the clock due to a fluke knee injury by Reis while attempting a guard pass. It was all fairly even up until that moment with a slight edge to Pato.
As expected, this was a very fun match to follow. Both of these athletes love to scramble and do it extremely well.
Currently, Mica is undeniably in the top 3 of this weight class and Kody is pursuing MMA and these different career paths were evident throughout the clash. Although Steele’s resilience and athleticism were most definitely worthy of praise, the polished skills of Galvao meant this was a one-way street with the Brazilian athlete fully in the driver’s seat.
Mica spent a long time with mount control, attempting to finish Steele but ended up transitioning to the back to secure the win via RNC.
Rafael Lovato Junior is one of the most beloved grapplers to grace the sport and, understandably, much of the energy/support was on his side last night. That said, there was one big question to be answered in order for the Six Blades athlete to pose a real threat to the current WNO champ, and that was: Could he establish the top position against the explosive, Marinho? Although the American grappling legend tried his hardest to take Gracie Barra’s Pedro down, Marinho won those exchanges and took Rafael down, first with a beautiful arm-drag, later with a duck-under. These two successful maneuvers sealed the deal for Pedro in a fairly even contest.