Earlier this year, top pound-for-pound no-gi grappler Gordon Ryan announced his unexpected leave of absence from competition due to ongoing health concerns. On Sunday at the Who’s Number One (WNO) Championships, Ryan announced that he will be returning for an “exhibition match” against UFC welterweight fighter Philip Rowe. The match is scheduled for October 20 at a WNO event.
As Ryan explained on the WNO Championships broadcast, the match will be treated like an extended roll; a submission will not signal the end of the match, but rather the grapplers will simply restart again on the feet. There will be no official scoring and no official winner.
Ryan announced his leave of absence from competition in May, during the lead up to a scheduled bout against Luiz Panza. Since then, Ryan has relocated from Puerto Rico to Austin, TX, following the dissolution of his longtime team, the Danaher Death Squad. He is expected to return to regular competition by the 2022 ADCC Championships, where he is slated to face rival Andre Galvao for the ADCC superfight title.
Philip “The Fresh Prince” Rowe is an 8-3 professional fighter that is 1-1 in the UFC. A brown belt in BJJ, Rowe is coming off a knockout win over Orion Cosce in July. This will not be Rowe’s first foray into submission grappling competition; he has appeared twice in the Submission Underground cage, losing to Gabriel Checco and Kody Steele.
How to watch: WNO takes place on Wednesday, October 20 and will air live on FloGrapping (subscription required).