‘The owner of ADCC owes us nothing’ – Gordon Ryan defends low prize money at ADCC

Multiple-time ADCC world champion Gordon Ryan is defending the $10,000 prize money given to ADCC gold medalists.

Two of no-gi grappling’s biggest names are going back and forth about the prize money at the ADCC World Championships.

Last week, two-time ADCC silver medalist Craig Jones released a video on YouTube explaining why he might not compete in the upcoming 2024 ADCC World Championships. As he outlines in the video below, Jones is disappointed that, despite increased revenue from streaming rights and an explosion of ticket sales, the ADCC continues to pay its male champions just $10,000 in prize money.

According to Jones, he can make more money in affiliate sales and marketing than he would if he were to win an ADCC world title.

Since that video was released, Jones’ former teammate Gordon Ryan has publicly defended the ADCC prize money. On Tuesday, he posted several Instagram stories that detailed his opinion on athlete pay.

As he explains above, Ryan claims that the ADCC, and specifically ADCC founder Sheikh Tahnoon has lost “10s of millions of dollars” over the past three decades.

Ryan goes on to make the unsubstantiated claim that the ADCC is still not making a profit, even though the organization has seen ticket sales skyrocket, sells merchandise, charges entry fees to ADCC Trials events that regularly meet maximum capacity, and has recently started holding ADCC Open events that charge entry fees. What’s more, the ADCC has sold its streaming rights to FloSports, which has made the event a key component of its marketing strategy.

Ryan argues that, because the ADCC World Championship is widely regarded as the Olympics grappling, the organization should continue to keep prize money as-is in order to not diminish the prestige of winning it. 

Alternatively, Ryan says that if the ADCC were to raise its prize money, it should become the highest-paid event in grappling (for the male divisions). 

Ryan concludes by stating that he “doesn’t deserve anything more than they’re willing to give.” As perhaps the most dominant athlete to ever compete in no-gi grappling, Ryan and his involvement in ADCC has undoubtedly been a driving force behind both ticket sales and FloSports subscriptions, with thousands of fans paying just to see him compete.

Earlier this year, Ryan announced that, due to ongoing health issues, he will not be competing in any events other than the ADCC World Championships.

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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