A rundown of the biggest headlines and news from the world of competitive grappling.
Jake Paul made the transition from YouTube star to boxer relatively quickly, and now it seems like he’s jumping into MMA head-first as well. He signed a contract with PFL earlier this month and he’s already got to work training for his eventual debut. Paul has managed to meet up with the head organizer for the ADCC world championships, Mo Jassim, and ATOS BJJ black belt Michael Perez.
PFL released some footage of Paul engaging in his first BJJ session with the pair of experienced grapplers, and he’s surprisingly capable. Paul has mentioned a background in wrestling in Ohio in the past, so he’s not entirely new to grappling even if he hasn’t spent any time learning BJJ in the past. He’s still a long way away from his MMA debut, but it’s clear that a lot of eyes will be on him when he finally steps into the cage.
Gordon Ryan signs seven-figure contract with FloSports
The professional grappling world has just taken a gigantic step forward, as Gordon Ryan has now signed a seven-figure multi-fight contract with FloSports. FloGrappling is a division of FloSports and is currently the only streaming service that’s able to show ADCC and IBJJF events. They’ve also been staging their own superfights under the brand name Who’s Number One, and Ryan has been a frequent competitor there.
It’s likely then that the fights on this contract are going to take place at Who’s Number One events, especially because Ryan is the promotion’s current Heavyweight champion. He even already has a match booked, as he will headline their next event on February 25th against Felipe Pena. It’s unclear whether this will serve as the first match of his new contract, or if this will go ahead on previously agreed terms.
Alex Enriquez puts in excellent performance at Finishers 18
Finishers 18 saw the promotion stage their very first grand prix, and they used a unique format to crown a champion in the 125lbs division. Instead of a straight knockout tournament, the eight women were split into two groups of four. Each group competed in a round-robin format so that every woman competing had a minimum of three matches against each of the other women in her bracket.
10th Planet prodigy Grace Gundrum and the promotion’s current 135lbs title-holder Alex Enriquez managed to submit all three of their opponents in the bracket to progress to the final. The match between the two was incredibly close and neither woman was able to get the finish in regulation time. They went to EBI overtime to decide a winner and although Gundrum secured a tight arm-triangle choke, Enriquez escaped and won the match.
Giancarlo Bodoni to challenge Pedro Marinho for WNO title
Pedro Marinho is the current Who’s Number One Light-Heavyweight champion and he was originally scheduled to defend his belt against ADCC world champion Giancarlo Bodoni last November. Unfortunately the match fell through when Bodoni was injured competing at EBI 20 shortly beforehand, but FloGrappling have seized an opportunity that recently presented itself in order to give Bodoni the chance again.
Nicholas Meregali and Craig Jones were set to meet in the co-main event of the Gordon Ryan v Felipe Pena 4 event on February 25th, but Jones had to withdraw on short notice and the match was cancelled. Now FloGrappling have been able to set up an equally impressive co-main event by rebooking Marinho v Bodoni, giving New Wave Jiu-Jitsu the chance to leave with both the heavyweight and light-heavyweight belts.
- Renzo Gracie was promoted to coral belt, the colour change signifying the 7th degree on a black belt, by his cousin Rickson Gracie.
- Legendary BJJ competitor and coach Marcelo Garcia announced that he has been diagnosed with stomach cancer.
- Jiu-Jitsu Con is back! the convention has been booked in a bigger venue than ever before and the dates have been confirmed.
- UFC legend and ONE Championship flyweight world champion Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson revealed that he’s open to a grappling match with Mikey Musumeci.