The world’s most well-known grappler is known for competing exclusively in no-gi submission grappling. That might change soon, as current no-gi pound-for-pound king Gordon Ryan hinted that he’s considering putting on the gi.
On Tuesday, Ryan posted on Instagram that he is searching for a gi sponsor for “the biggest marketing project the sport will see anytime soon.”
Given the $100,000 price tag attached to this request, it’s hard to imagine Ryan is expecting this kind of sponsorship deal for anyone but himself. He is, notoriously, the highest paid competitor in the sport and undoubtedly its most recognizable.
Can we expect to see Gordon Ryan competing in the gi? Maybe. To be certain, this ins’t the first time Ryan has flirted with the idea of gi competition, but previous teases fell through and he has continued to compete strictly in no-gi. However, as he continues to promote himself as the best grappler in the world, and as he continues to beef with jiu-jitsu players that want to face him in the gi, pressure is mounting for Ryan to enter the world of gi jiu-jitsu. That pressure will only continue to grow as he continues to dominate in no-gi competition.
If he does decide to compete in the gi, Ryan will likely be welcomed by a number of grapplers that have beefed with him over the years, many of whom have explicitly challenged him to a gi match. Names like Lucas Barbosa, Kaynan Duarte, Gustavo Batista, and Erberth Santos are all potential opponents that would attract plenty of eyeballs. Moreover, Ryan could be angling for a gi match with Felipe Pena, the only man to defeat him twice (both times in no-gi).
Perhaps the most important question that few are asking is how Ryan’s game would translate to the gi. He is certainly the sport’s top no-gi competitor and has been nothing short of dominant for over two years — and that dominance is clearly worth something. However, will that dominance carry over if he competes with grapplers that regularly put on the gi or even specialize in gi grappling? That’s what makes this potential move interesting.