Well, we’re here for another star-studded edition of the Aces BJJ News Roundup, but let’s be real. We all know there’s only one story anyone is really talking about. Two of the biggest athletes in professional grappling got into an altercation backstage at the most recent “Who’s Number One?” event. Why did this happen? Why is everyone losing their minds? Personally, to me, one black belt slapping another after a press conference has the journalistic appeal of a 16-year-old jar of mayo, but a writer has to eat.
We’ll discuss it, of course, but I’d be remiss not to mention other cool events in the world of BJJ. Tons of great athletes put in work on what ended up being a great card. From Craig Jones to Nathiely de Jesus, we saw no gi spectacles in lightning-fast leg lock submissions and razor-close wars decided by the judges. So before adding fuel to the fire, let’s give them their due.
Craig Jones Submits Ronaldo Junior
Initially, this was the main event of WNO this week. Who’d have thought?
Jones put on a leglock clinic against the young Brazilian, ending their bout with the fastest submission of the evening.
Pulling guard from the jump, Jones quickly went on the attack while Junior tried to pass. The younger man put a ton of effort into defending his legs, but Jones still slipped into his preferred z-guard. Junior escaped and soon after was put into 50/50 by Jones threatening a heel hook. This spelled the end, and though Junior fought the grips, Jones was ultimately able to get the tap in under five minutes.
Now in a vacuum, this performance would be newsworthy on its own—all the more reason to give it the attention it deserves regardless. Ultimately, the always affable Jones was mostly self-deprecating in subsequent social media posts.
And his was not the only stellar match of the evening.
Nathiely de Jesus Defeats Gabi Garcia
The undefeated no gi phenom Gabi Garcia has finally met her match. Longtime rival and the woman responsible for her last gi loss in 2019, Nathiely de Jesus overcame the legend in a close decision. This makes De Jesus the first competitor to defeat Garcia in both rulesets.
Kicking off with a charge ending out of bounds, Garcia was a force right from the bell. De Jesus pulled guard, but Garcia countered with a straight ankle lock that went nowhere. The athletes transitioned between positions and leg attacks for most of the opening, with de Jesus getting a pretty good bite on a heel hook and Garcia returning to the straight ankle lock.
Eventually disengaging, both women found the edge once again before a reset. De Jesus pulled to closed guard to counter a takedown, and Garcia made several attempts to pressure pass, but De Jesus had her locked up tighter than Fort Knox.
Garcia went in on a bottom-down foot lock towards the end of the match, but De Jesus countered with a toe hold followed by a near-back take. She locked in a pretty tight head and arm choke and nearly put hooks in to take the back. A final foot lock attempt from Garcia followed, but it was already too late.
De Jesus won by Unanimous decision, but man, that was a back and forth. Hopefully, only the most recent of many more to come.
Phew, ok, here we are.
Following a dominant submission victory against Roberto Jimenez, Gordon Ryan ran into multiple-time ADCC champion and Atos Head Coach André Galvão. The two had been waging a war of words over Instagram and through various interviews regarding their potential ADCC Super Fight. Andre stated he wanted a cool million for his time, which, as someone who can add 2 + 2 together, makes absolutely no sense.
The dialogue online grew more heated the closer we got to the event. After his victory, Gordon posted an Instagram story claiming André flipped him off when they interacted. Later, The two restarted their argument during a media interview Gordon was doing. The two start to yell, and André eventually shoves Gordon. Gordon retaliates with an open-handed right slap, and André continued to yell at him. The fight was soon broken up and then shifted to Instagram posts once more.
Since the altercation, Gordon has posted a string of castigations against André and the rest of team Atos.
“I didn’t say one word of sh*t-talk about Andre after ADCC because he said he was retired. Only when he started with me did I answer. All I said initially was that he had a great career, and he said he was retired, but if he wants to compete, it’d be an honor. This is 100% fact,” Gordon posted soon after the fight. André has yet to respond as of posting this article.
If it wasn’t clear by now, this topic is a bit of a sore spot. I love BJJ, and covering the athletes and matches of the sport is my chosen career. But this weird alpha courtship is a remnant of when our sport was owned almost entirely by one family of bullies and aristocrats. Yes, BJJ has a violent history. Yes, a lot of that early violence helped the sport stay strong in the face of other styles. And yes, the very act itself can be violent. But what really happened here? What were the stakes? Was BJJ itself on the line?
No, two rich guys will maybe roll with each other because one slapped the other.
I’m not stupid enough to say these men aren’t two of the best BJJ competitors in history. Their match would likely be spectacular and set a new age for black belts everywhere. But is BJJ going to die if these two don’t fight? And after this, are the benefits to competitive BJJ even worth it?
I doubt it.