Well, it happened: FloGrappling broke the news late last night that due to health complications, Gordon Ryan has withdrawn from his WNO super-fight against longtime rival Felipe Pena, scheduled for Saturday, February 25. Stepping in to replace the current no-gi king is none other than former teammate Nick “Nicky Rod” Rodriguez of B-Team.
Is the Gordon-versus-Felipe matchup simply cursed? Given the utterly devastating circumstances around their last showdown — which forced a recently bereaved Pena, who’d just lost one of his best friends, to enter a match against his biggest rival, then verbally tap due to mental health challenges wrought by grief — you’d be forgiven for wondering.
Pena himself appears miffed at the last-minute replacement this time around. He posted a text message exchange between himself and Ryan on Instagram, in which Ryan explained that he had been suffering from a bad stomach virus that had taken fifteen pounds off his frame in on week, and left him dehydrated, dependent on IV fluids, and running a high grade fever.
Pena appears unsympathetic, simply replying, “I fought you on the same day my friend died and now you can’t fight because of bad stomach?”
In the caption, Pena has written, “I fought our last fight the day one of my best friends died to save the event with the condition that Saturday’s fight would happen. Nobody who has a stomach problem to the point of not doing such an important fight goes out to dinner with friends and after is training in a garage?! Interesting that the problem is only to fight so… You are a coward.”
In his own explanation on Instagram, Ryan delved into his health issues in greater detail, adding, “Of course, to the fans as well, I am very sorry. I made the mistake of facing pena sick in our 1st match and I swore to never do that again. I have competed (2019 ADCC) with food poisoning (and a broken hand) that I came down with the day before hand but this one has been eating at me for a week and I simply have nothing left for a hard match at the moment.”
However, as Nicky Rod’s B-Team teammates recently quipped, “In this world, nothing is certain except death, taxes, and [Nicky Rod] being down to fight anyone at any time.” The B-Team star previously stepped in as a 24-hour-notice replacement for Vinny Magalhães against Gordon at the UFC Fight Pass invitational back in December, and impressed the grappling community by forcing the match into overtime, where Rodriguez took a narrow loss.
Additionally, Rodriguez previously upset Pena in the semifinals of ADCC 2022, where his famous bodylock pass triumphed over Pena’s seemingly impassable guard game. We’ll find out whether he can repeat the performance this weekend on WNO.
Tune into Rodriguez vs Pena at Tezos WNO on Saturday, February 25 at 8:30 PM EST, via FloGrappling.