FloGrappling releases statement about Ryan vs. Pena match controversy

On Sunday, August 7, one of the biggest matches in submission grappling history took place, as Gordon Ryan and Felipe Pena squared off in a no-time limit match in the main event of Who’s Number One (WNO).

That match — which took place less than a day after the tragic killing of jiu-jitsu legend Leandro Lo — ended under odd circumstances, with Pena verbally submitting after about 45-minutes of action. Pena was not in a submission hold when he submitted, so the finish instantly raised eyebrows.

Now days later, FloGrappling, Felipe Pena, and Gordon Ryan have all shared their side of the story.

Pena’s perspective

In an interview immediately following the match, Pena explained that he did not want to compete that day due to the loss of his close friend, Leandro Lo.

In a second interview backstage, Pena gave his side of the story. According to Pena, he told FloGrappling that he did not want to compete. In order to save the event, Pena says FloGrappling offered him an hour-long match that was to start at the beginning of the event so that he could leave as soon as possible. According to Pena, Ryan declined that match.

Video of Pena’s backstage interview has been removed from FloGrappling’s social media channels and website. Pena posted his statement on Instagram.

Ryan’s perspective

For his part, Ryan released a video detailing his side of the story.

I said if he wants to cancel the match and reschedule, fine…

He was trying to change the rules to be an hour long, or 30 minutes… If you can compete, then compete. If you can’t compete then we’ll reschedule it…

Felipe is saying that Flo and I forced him to compete… Felipe signed the contract to compete against me, then when Leandro died he tried to leverage his best friend’s death to change the ruleset of our match… He leveraged his best friend’s death to extort Flo for more money for the match, otherwise he wouldn’t compete.

In short, Ryan says that Pena was pushing for a time limit (either 60 or 30 minutes), but Ryan refused. Ryan also states that Pena negotiated a higher payday to compete under the circumstances.

FloGrappling’s statement

On Wednesday, more than two days after the event, FloGrappling released a statement about the match.

Flo’s statement conflicts with Pena’s in that Flo alleges Pena proposed a time limit, Pena stated that it was Flo that first proposed a time limit. Both agree that Ryan declined a change to the ruleset.

Ryan alleges that Pena “extorted” Flo for more money to compete, but according to Flo’s statement, it was Flo that offered Pena a pay increase.

Pena and Ryan are both slated to compete in the heavyweight division at the ADCC World Championships in September, and could square off there. Additionally, the pair has officially agreed to a fourth match at some point in the future.

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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