‘I don’t believe his stomach excuse’ – Felipe Pena unsure if fourth Gordon Ryan match will happen before transitioning to MMA

Felipe Pena wants to transition to MMA but is unsure how much longer he’s willing to wait for a fourth Gordon Ryan match.

Felipe Pena is growing impatient with rival Gordon Ryan.

The 2017 ADCC absolute champion currently holds a 2-1 career record against Ryan and was expected to face him for a fourth time in February at a Who’s Number One event. But when Ryan withdrew just days before the event citing a stomach virus, his former Danaher Death Squad teammate Nick Rodriguez filled in on late notice. Pena would win that close and competitive match by decision.

Extremely accomplished in the world of jiu-jitsu and professional grappling, Pena has been targeting a transition to MMA for some time now. He’d also like to settle the score with Ryan in a fourth match.

In a recent appearance on MMA Fighting’s podcast Trocação Franca, Pena spoke about deciding between another grappling match against Ryan or making the move to MMA full-time.

According to Pena, the clock is ticking on his transition to MMA:

“I don’t know how it’s going to be because I’m 31 so I can’t wait too long to make this transition. I’ll need some time to learn and evolve and I’m not that young anymore. I think I’m in the limit to make this transition.”

Pena says he’s already dipped his toes in the world of striking and feels comfortable exchanging blows:

“I’ve always had this will [to fight MMA] since I started training jiu-jitsu. Watching guys in the UFC and all that attention. To say, ‘I want to become [MMA] champion’. I’ve always wanted to try this sport and test myself. I’ve had experience training Muay Thai and MMA for some time and enjoyed it. I had no problem getting punched in the face.”

More than just wanting to test himself in a different sport, Pena is also motivated by the greater financial rewards that come with a successful MMA career in a major organization. 

Because while a fourth showdown with Ryan – grappling’s current biggest star – would certainly be a massive event in the jiu-jitsu world, it pales in comparison to, say, a UFC pay-per-view or ONE Championship fight card.

Pena added:

“And also the financial side of it, it’s such a bigger sport. If I become in MMA what I am in jiu-jitsu it would be a whole other level of media and money.”

Ultimately, when Pena moves to MMA will likely depend on Ryan’s return to grappling competition. If the multiple-time ADCC champion is ready and able to compete soon, Pena says he’s still very much interested in a fourth match.

But Pena doubts Ryan’s excuse for withdrawing from their most recently scheduled contest and isn’t willing to wait much longer:

“I’ll decide in the coming weeks. My interest is in doing this match. There’s a lot of media on it and everybody wants to see it. But I don’t believe his stomach excuse last time around, so I don’t know if he wants to fight for now. I’m talking to people to see what’s going to happen because I can’t stand by and wait for him to decide when he wants to fight.”

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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