WNO: Gordon Ryan vs. Felipe Pena full card line-up and preview

On Sunday, August 7, Gordon Ryan will look to defeat the one man that has twice defeated him at black belt. Ryan, the reigning ADCC 99 kg. and absolute champion, will take on longtime rival Felipe Pena in a submission-only, no-time limit match in the main event of Sunday’s Who’s Number One (WNO) event.

The rest of the card is loaded with elite competitors who will be competing in 15-minute submission-only matches.

Below is the full card line-up and preview for WNO: Ryan vs. Pena.

Gordon Ryan vs. Felipe Pena

Ryan and Pena first squared off in 2016, with Pena winning by submission after a grueling 45 minutes of action. The two would meet again just a year later in the finals of the absolute division at the 2017 ADCC World Championships; Pena won that match on points. In both matches, Pena showed his excellent leg lock defense and an incredible ability to take Ryan’s back off of leg entanglements.

Of course, Ryan has evolved significantly since 2017. Five years ago, he was primarily known as a leg locker. Today, Ryan is a methodical guard passer with arguably the best top control and mount in the world. He used that top control to utterly dominate IBJJF Worlds double gold medalist Pedro Marinho in his most recent appearance.

For his part, Pena is skilled in all areas but tends to do his best work from his guard where he constantly looks to attack the back. If Pena wants to pick up a third win over Ryan, he must have an answer for Ryan’s pressure passing or he runs the risk of being stuck under Ryan’s mount for minutes (or even hours) on end.

Given Ryan’s recent approach of gradually wearing his opponents down with steady pressure, a no-time limit match seems to favor him. However, as Pena showed in his first encounter with Ryan, Pena is always just a scramble away from back control where he is a fast and effective finisher.

Nicholas Meregali vs. Rafael Lovato Jr.

Still just two matches into his no-gi career, Nicholas Meregali takes a massive step up on in competition when he takes on Rafael Lovato Jr. Meregali has looked relatively strong in both of his no-gi wins over Arnaldo Maidana and Breylor Grout. With all due respect to those opponents, they are both significantly less skilled and accomplished than Lovato, who is an ADCC veteran, a no-gi world champion, and a former Bellator MMA middleweight champion.

In this match, look for Lovato to try to work his steady pressure passing against Meregali’s notoriously dangerous guard. Importantly, we have essentially only seen Meregali working from top position in his no-gi matches, but Lovato should have the wrestling to force Meregali to work from his back.

Mica Galvao vs. Alan Sanchez

Simply put, the 18-year old Mica Galvao has been one of the most dominant grapplers in the world for the past year-and-a-half. He won the ADCC Brazilian Trials with all wins by way of submission, as well as a 2022 IBJJF world champion. In his most recent WNO appearance, Galvao defeated Dante Leon by decision.

Alan Sanchez will aim to implement his submission-oriented 10th Planet style against Galvao. A recent EBI tournament winner, Sanchez will need to play his regular offensive game while simultaneously being hyper-aware of Galvao’s dangerous counter attacks.

Beatriz Mesquita vs. Elisabeth Clay

In a battle of old school versus new school, eight-time IBJJF world champion Bia Mesquita takes on 2021 no-gi world champion Elisabeth Clay. Mequita has skills in all areas, but she’ll likely be playing top against guard and leg lock specialist Clay.

Jay Rodriguez vs. Jacob Couch

In yet another clash of styles, the B-Team’s Jay Rodriguez faces Daisy Fresh’s Jacob “The Hillbilly Hammer” Couch. Just a couple years into training in submission grappling, Rodriguez is an excellent takedown artist with world class back-takes and an indomitable spirit. Couch, on the other hand, is a leg lock specialist that might be equally dangerous attacking from the closed guard.

Fabricio Andrey vs. Fabian Ramirez

Fabricio Andrey is an ADCC Trials winner, a 2021 IBJJF world champion, and will be a significant favorite over Serra BJJ’s Fabian Ramirez. Ramirez is a skilled leg locker, but he’ll be facing an uphill battle against Andrey, who is one of the sport’s best overall athletes that has shown an ability to attack and secure submissions from a variety of positions.

Diogo Reis vs. Estevan Martinez

The event will kick off with a bang, as “Baby Shark” Diogo Reis takes on the ultra-entertaining Estevan Martinez. Look for Martinez to try to back flip, cartwheel, and otherwise fly over Reis’ dangerous open guard. This match has all the makings of an instant classic, as both competitors love high-paced, scramble-heavy matches.

How to watch: WNO: Gordon Ryan vs. Felipe Pena takes place on Sunday, August 7 at 6:30 CT and will air live on FloGrappling (subscription required).

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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