Topping off an incredibly stacked ADCC event, we have the +99kg division, which is full of exciting match-ups and a guaranteed historic outcome.
With Gordon Ryan moving up to ADCC’s +99kg division for the first time, there are now a few soap opera-worthy storylines to develop between him and long time rival Felipe Pena, his former teammate Nicky Rod, or any other opponent who he might have rubbed the wrong way in his climb to the top of the grappling world.
Beyond that, the division holds a total of 5 former ADCC World Champions. Nearly every fighter in the weight class has some type of World or National Championship, and it really is a situation of ‘anything could happen at any time’.
Here’s a closer look at the list of competitors in this year’s +99kg division:
Gordon Ryan, USA
1st Place, 2019 ADCC World Championship (weight and absolute)
1st Place 2017 ADCC World Championship (weight)
2nd Place, 2017 ADCC World Championship (absolute)
1st Place, 2018 IBJJF World No-Gi Championship (weight and absolute)
The obvious leading favorite in this tournament, Gordon is possibly facing his greatest test yet, taking on the +99kg division for the first time, while also going in the absolute bracket and facing Andre Galvao in a superfight.
To make things more interesting, there are two people in the +99kg bracket who’ve defeated him before, Felipe Pena and Vinny Magalhaes. Of course, that all happened more than five years ago, and in that time Gordon has dominated just about everybody.
Felipe Pena, Brazil
1st Place, 2017 ADCC World Championship (Absolute)
1st Place, 2021 IBJJF World Championship* (Stripped for PEDs)
1st Place, 2019 IBJJF World Championship
1st Place, 2018 IBJJF World Championship
1st Place, 2015 IBJJF World Championship NOGI
1st Place, 2014 IBJJF World Championship* (Stripped for PEDs)
Felipe Pena publicly requested to move up to the +99kg division with an instagram post, calling out Gordon Ryan and proving that he truly believes he can take him down.
After the two have recently faced each other under difficult and unfortunate circumstances, Pena will most likely have to battle through some tough opponents in order to have the chance to face Gordon.
A returning ADCC Champion, Pena is one of the leading favorites in the race.
Victor Hugo, Brazil
1st Place, 2021 IBJJF World Championship
1st Place, 2019 IBJJF World Championship NOGI
Hugo is a physically imposing black belt under Saulo and Xande Ribeiro. He’s previously defeated Nicky Rod and Cyborg, and holds a pair of IBJJF world championships already.
Vinny Magalhães, USA/Brazil
1st Place, 2011 ADCC World Championship
1st Place, 2016 IBJJF Masters World Championship
1st Place, 2007 IBJJF World Championship NoGi
3rd Place, 2011 ADCC World Championship
3rd Place, 2009 ADCC World Championship
One of only two people in the bracket to hold a win over Gordon Ryan, Magalhāes defeated Ryan via points in 2018. He also holds an ADCC World Championship from 2011 and has seen the podium two other times.
He’s been an active competitor since 2006 and is one of the most experienced grapplers in the division.
Joāo Gabriel Rocha, Brazil
1st Place, IBJJF American Nationals (weight and absolute)
1st Place, 2018 IBJJF Pan Championship
1st Place, 2017 IBJJF Pan Championship
1st Place, 2013 CBJJ Brazilian Nationals
2nd Place, 2013 ADCC World Championship
Joāo has been largely inactive in recent years, and even less active in his nogi competition. But his experience can’t be overlooked, holding victories over divisional opponents Roosevelt Sousa and Max Gimenis. He’s returning to ADCC Worlds for his second appearance after placing 2nd in 2013.
Orlando Sanchez, USA
1st Place, 2015 ADCC World Championship
2nd Place, 2017 ADCC World Championship
Sanchez is a returning ADCC Champion and silver medalist who has only been submitted once in his professional career.
His 2017 ADCC run was ended by a loss to Nicky Rod in the quarterfinal round, but ‘Big O’ is a wild card in this race that could potentially steal an unexpected victory from anyone at any time.
Roberto ‘Cyborg’ Abreu, Brazil
1st Place, 2013 ADCC World Championship (absolute)
1st Place, 2021 IBJJF World Championship NoGi
1st Place, 2017 IBJJF World Championship NoG
1st Place, 2012 IBJJF World Championship NoG
1st Place, 2011 IBJJF World Championship NoG
1st Place, 2010 IBJJF World Championship NoGi (weight and absolute)
1st Place, 2018 IBJJF Masters World Championship
2nd Place, 2009 ADCC World Championship
2nd Place, 2010 IBJJF World Championship
3rd Place, 2017 ADCC World Championship
3rd Place, 2013 ADCC World Championship
3rd Place, 2011 ADCC World Championship
Cyborg is one of the few former ADCC world champions in the bracket, having won his claim to the title in 2013. Most notably, he’s stood on the ADCC podium a total of 5 times so far. While he’s a bit older than the rest of the competition, he looks to fight his way to yet another successful ADCC run.
Nick Rodriguez, USA
1st Place, 2019 ADCC US West Coast Trials
2nd Place, 2019 ADCC World Championships
Nick Rodriguez is possibly the most athletic competitor in a bracket that’s stacked full of world class athletes. His extensive wrestling background and top-tier education under John Danaher puts Rodriguez in the running for a successful ADCC run. Rodriguez has been largely inactive in competition since 2019, but is back to contest yet again for the ADCC title.
One aspect of this bracket that isn’t talked about enough is the potential for former teammates Nicky Rod and Gordon Ryan to compete against each other.
Haisam Rida, Ghana
1st Place, 2021 IBJJF American Nationals NOGI
1st Place, 2020 IBJJF American Nationals NOGI
3rd Place, 2020 IBJJF American Nationals NOGI
Rida comes into World Championships representing Ghana in his first appearance at ADCC. He’s been making waves in the IBJJF NoGi scene for the last few years, and now he looks to test his skills under the ADCC rules.
Daniel Manasoiu, Romania
1st Place, 2022 2nd ADCC European Trials ADCC
2nd Place, 2022 ADCC West Coast Trials
Manasoiu won the 2nd European trials at just 19-years old as a blue belt, submitting all of his opponents in the process. But don’t be mistaken, standing at 6’7”, he’s a monster of a human and looks at least 30. He had previously taken 2nd in the USA West Coast Trials, and was recently featured on the Who’s Next: Submission Fighter Challenge.
John Hansen, USA
1st Place, 2022 1st ADCC North American Trials
John Hansen earned his way to ADCC Worlds back in 2019 by winning at the North American trials, and is now back on the stage after doing it again. After training with Pedigo Submission Fighting, he looks to improve on his 1-2 run in 2019.
Roosevelt Sousa, Brazil
1st Place, 2022 ADCC Brazilian Trials (2022)
3rd Place. 2022 IBJJF Pan Championship (weight and absolute)
3rd Place, 2021 AJP Abu Dhabi World Pro
A new face in the competitive scene who’s professional record is just a couple of years old but is heavy in the win column. Sousa is an aggressive attacker who has found a submission in nearly 70% of his victories.
Max Gimenis, Brazil
1st Place, 2020 IBJJF Pan Championship
2nd Place, 2021 IBJJF World Championship
2nd Place, 2018 IBJJF Pans Championship NOGI
3rd Place, 2021 IBJJF World Championship NOGI
Max Gimenis is returning to ADCC’s +99kg division for the second time, after losing to Josh Hansen in the opening round of the 2019 bracket. He holds a black belt under Julio César Pereira and his MMA experience adds to his pressure passing and takedown style of grappling.
Heikki Jussila Finland
1st Place, 2022 1st ADCC European Trials
After coming out on top at the European Trials, Jussila comes into the World Championship as a heavy underdog. He’ll have to overcome some tough opponents early on if he wants to make a splash in the bracket. But one great performance could shape his future in grappling.
Damon Ramos, USA
Renzo Gracie Academy
2nd Place, 2022 ADCC East Coast Trials
4th Place, 2022 ADCC West Coast Trials
Ramos hasn’t broken into the mainstream grappling scene yet, but that could all change with a compelling performance this weekend. He took 4th place at the East Coast trials, but couldn’t compete for 3rd due to injury. He later took 2nd place at the West Coast trials.
Josh Saunders, Australia
1st Place, 2022 ADCC Oceania & Asian Trials
Saunders is one of the less experienced grapplers in the bracket, but his winn at the Oceania & Asian Trials earned him a ticket to World’s where he hopes to overcome his underdog status.