Throwback: Gordon Ryan vs. Rousimar Palhares In a 15-Minute Submission-Only Match

Although he is currently on an indefinite leave of absence from competition, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some of Gordon Ryan’s classic performances. With that in mind, let’s look back on one of Ryan’s biggest wins and one of his most dominant performances — a 2019 15-minute submission-only match against leg lock specialist Rousimar Palhares.

What we see here is Ryan confidently engaging Palhares in a leg entanglement, only to quickly jump on an opportunity to take Palhares’ back. Once on the back, he secured a body triangle and held the back position, hunting a rear-naked choke, for essentially the entire match. At the time, some observers still thought of Ryan as simply a leg locking specialist, but this match demonstrated that his leg attacks often serve to establish more traditional dominant positions, like the back.

Gordon Ryan is a three-time ADCC gold medalist, and this match was following his 2019 double-gold performance. He has not lost a match since 2018, and prior to announcing his retirement from competition, he had earned dominant submission wins over Roberto Jimenez and Vagner Rocha in 2021.

Rousimar Palhares is one of the most feared submission artists in MMA and jiu-jitsu. A black belt under Murilo Bustamante, Palhares is a 2011 ADCC silver medalist, but is perhaps best known for his devastating leg locks in MMA (and, notoriously, holding those leg locks well after his opponent has tapped). He fought in the UFC between 2008 and 2013, earning six submission wins during that tenure.

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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