The 2022 ADCC World Championships took place on September 17-18, live from Las Vegas, NV. Let’s recap the action from the world’s most prestigious submission grappling tournament.
After three long years of waiting, grappling fans were treated to an action-packed, drama-filled ADCC World Championships. In the main event, rivals Andre Galvao and Gordon Ryan settled their years-long feud in one of the most anticipated grappling matches in the history of the sport.
And in tournament action, history was made as jiu-jitsu’s youth movement was on full display, with the new guard earning some big upsets over more established veterans, while the absolute division saw an ADCC legend return to the top.
Men’s 66 kg.
Melqui Galvao black belt Diogo “Baby Shark” Reis displayed preternatural takedown and wrestling ability on his way to gold in his first ever ADCC, defeating Ash Williams, teammate Fabricio Andrey, Josh Cisneros, and Gabriel Sousa in a breakout performance. Although Reis started the year primarily known as a guard playing gi specialist, he has quickly proven to be at the top of the food chain in no-gi competition.
Reis’ opponent in the final, Sousa, also had a strong showing in taking home silver. Sousa displayed a relentless, gritty style of guard passing that seems perfectly suited for the ADCC ruleset; watch for him to continue to find success at ADCC in years to come.
Outside of Reis and Sousa, Diego “Pato” Oliveira deserves mention as one of the division’s stars. The Unity Jiu-Jitsu representative proved to be one of the best leg lockers of the weekend, tapping fellow leg locker Keith Krikorian with a foot lock in the first round before submitting returning silver medalist Kennedy Maciel with an ultra-rare Z-lock in the quarterfinals.
Men’s 77 kg.
The consensus most stacked division of the tournament did not disappoint. Returning two-time champion JT Torres was ousted in the second round by 10th Planet’s PJ Barch, marking one of the event’s many upsets. Barch, though, would lose in the semifinals to eventual champ Kade Ruotolo.
Ruotolo is arguably the standout grappler of the weekend, as he not only made history as the youngest competitor to ever win ADCC gold, but he did it with a 100% submission rate. His final match, against fellow teenager Mica Galvao, might have been the best technical display of the tournament, and ended with Ruotolo handing Galvao his first-ever submission loss.
Returning fourth place finisher Dante Leon also put on a strong showing in earning bronze, but dealt with some controversy in his semifinal contest against Galvao. With about a minute remaining in the overtime, Leon evened the score at 2-2 with a takedown. Assuming the match was headed to a decision, the Pedigo Submission Fighting representative didn’t take any huge risks in the final moments. But with just six seconds on the clock, ADCC judges decided to roll back Leon’s takedown points, essentially giving Galvao the win as time expired.
Men’s 88 kg.
New Wave’s Giancarlo Bodoni came into the weekend as a very promising yet relatively unknown Trials winner. He left the weekend a world champion with victories over a pair of ADCC powerhouses.
After defeating Isaque Bahiense in the round of 16, Bodoni next dominated returning champion Matheus Diniz, submitting him with a triangle choke in the final minute after earning a points advantage. In the semifinals, Bodoni leg locked the leg lock specialist Eoghan O’Flanagan, showing much improvement in an area of his game that had previously been a weakness. And in the final, Bodoni looked unstoppable in submitting 2019 bronze medalist Lucas “Hulk” Barbosa.
For his part, O’Flanagan deserves credit as the division’s breakout star. A European Trials winner, O’Flanagan beat the legend Xande Ribeiro in the first round before submitting divisional favorite Mason Fowler in the quarterfinals. The leg locker showed a relatively well-rounded game, and his fourth-place finish should secure him a spot at the 2024 ADCC World Championships.
Men’s 99 kg.
Returning heavyweight champion Kaynan Duarte picked up his second ADCC gold medal in a string of methodical performances. In the final, Duarte squared off with fan-favorite Craig Jones, and while Duarte was able to rack up points with guard passes and positional control, he also earned many negative points for passivity. At one point, Duarte had accrued more negative points that positive, meaning he could have lost the match while being the only competitor to score any points.
For Jones, it was a disappointing third silver medal. The B-Team captain displayed improved wrestling, but ultimately his guard couldn’t hold up under Duarte’s pressure passing.
Also of note, gi world champion Nicholas Meregali proved to be an elite no-gi player with a third-place finish in his first ADCC. Meregali’s guard looked sharp as always, and his wrestling was more than adequate in wins over Henrique Ceconi, absolute champion Yuri Simoes, and Rafael Lovato Jr.
Men’s 99+ kg.
In what may have been his most dominant ADCC run yet, Gordon Ryan became the first man to capture ADCC gold in three different weight divisions (beating Yuri Simoes by just a couple of hours). Outside of a fun points victory over Victor Hugo, Ryan submitted each of his opponents, including former teammate Nick Rodriguez in the final, and did so with what seemed to be very little effort. And while Ryan has used top pressure and guard passing in many of his recent outings, his leg lock game was back on full display this weekend.
Rodriguez is no-doubt disappointed in second place, but he nonetheless put on one of the best showings of his career. Until he met Ryan, Rodriguez’s body lock passing looked unstoppable, as he surprised fans by passing Felipe Pena’s vaunted guard in the semifinal.
The division also featured one of the biggest upsets of the weekend when Haisam Rida made quick work of former ADCC absolute champion Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu with an explosive armbar finish.
Women’s 60 kg.
Fan-favorite Ffion Davies proved that her silver medal run in 2019 was no fluke. Davies used her judo-style takedowns and exceptional guard passing to once again defeat “Lady GOAT” Bia Mesquita in an all-action, back-and-forth match in the semifinals. And in the final, Davies used that same trademark guard passing to earn a dominant points victory over Brianna Ste-Marie.
For her part, Ste-Marie looked every part the ADCC competitor, defeating returning champion Bianca Basilio in dramatic fashion in the semifinal.
While there is no shortage of up-and-coming grapplers in this division, it would appear that Davies and Ste-Marie could have a stranglehold on 60 kg. for some time. Both women are incredibly physical, tactically aware, and have a game that is well suited for ADCC.
Women’s 60+ kg.
The women’s heavyweight division could also be called the Amy Campo show. The West Coast Trials winner defeated returning four-time champion Gabi Garcia in what was one of the most memorable ADCC matches of all time. In the closing seconds of their bout, with the score tied, Campo scored a takedown off the mat and, in typical ADCC fashion, continued to mount and even attack an armbar on the concrete.
In the final, Campo defeated the heavily favored Rafaela Guedes, again scoring the match-winning points in the closing seconds to cap off a dramatic, all-time ADCC run.
The absolute division saw former two-time ADCC champion Yuri Simoes become the second man to ever win ADCC gold in three divisions. With a seemingly endless gas tank and phenomenal wrestling, Simoes bested Andy Varela, Nick Rodriguez, Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu, and, in the final, Nicholas Meregali to capture absolute gold, punching his ticket to the 2022 ADCC superfight against Gordon Ryan.
After a disappointingly early exit from the 88 kg. division, Tye Ruotolo impressed in the absolute. Ruotolo submitted no-gi world champion Pedro Marinho in the first round and, in the second, beat heavyweight competitor Felipe Pena in one of the weekend’s best contests. In the semifinals, Ruotolo lost a controversial decision to Meregali.
Gordon Ryan looked simply untouchable against a game but outmatched Andre Galvao. After accepting an early takedown from Galvao, Ryan used beautiful guard play to take top position well before points were in play. And once points did come into effect, Ryan quickly advanced position to secure Galvao’s back and sink in the choke after just over 15 minutes of action.