Rodolfo vieira shows Gordon Ryan and Roger Gracie neck-and-neck for GOAT status when it comes to grappling


Can Gordon Ryan surpass Roger Gracie and become the greatest grappler of all-time? For UFC middleweight Rodolfo Vieira, one of the very few ADCC gold medalists to ever compete inside the octagon, he’s one gold medal away from that.

Vieira, who remains one of the most revered names in the grappling circuit after his jiu-jitsu retirement to transition to MMA, was impressed by Ryan’s performance at this year’s ADCC in Las Vegas. Ryan won the gold medal in his weight category and was tapped by Andre Galvao, in what is highly anticipated.

Roger Gracie is not the most victorious ADCC competitors counted by number of medals, sitting behind Galvao, Ryan and the likes of Marcelo Garcia, Mark Kerr and Ricardo Arona. But the way he dominated his opponents with relative ease makes him one of there most celebrated grapplers ever.

Gracie was awarded gold at the ADCC three times, beating names such as Alexandre Ribeiro, Shinya Aoki and Fabricio Werdum. He captured 10 titles at the IBJJF World Championship, something Ryan, a five-time ADCC gold medalist, hasn’t accomplished.

” I believe it’s difficult to decide who’s greatest,” Vieira stated on a recent episode Trocacao Franka ,. “But, I think it’s between Roger and [Ryan]. But really, with the age [Ryan] has — if you look at Roger when he won the ADCC 2005, he didn’t have the age [Ryan] has. There is still so much to do, but he already has a very high-level of jiu jitsu.

Gracie was 24 when he first won the ADCC in 2005, two years older than Ryan when he placed first in 2017.

“He is beautiful and very aggressive. To submit, he fights beautifully, which I enjoy watching,” Vieira stated of Ryan. He made this look effortless at the ADCC. Of course, I wanted Andre to win. Although many said that he wouldn’t catch him [Ryan], deep down I felt Andre was a possibility. But I believed Andre would win. Unfortunately, he didn’t. Andre was defeated by him and he just did his job. And the fact he had a 40-minute match with Andre Galvao and still asked to compete in his weight class, you can count on the fingers which athletes would have the guts to do that.

“It’s hard, it’s between Roger and him, but I believe one more [ADCC] win and I think he will be considered [the greatest], no doubt.”

Gracie retired from major grappling tournaments in 2010 to focus full-time on his MMA career, but years later, he came back to the mats to submit multiple-time world champions Rodrigo Comprido and Marcus Buchecha. In the end, his record as a black belt shows 76 wins and only seven defeats, having avenged every single one of those losses. Ryan, who also teased a move to MMA in the past, won 97 of 103 matches in eight years, currently riding a 53-match winning streak since 2018.

Vieira, who withdrew from a UFC Vegas 65 clash with Cody Brundage due to COVID-19 days prior to the Nov. 19 card, retired from grappling in 2015 to become a MMA fighter, returning only for ocasional superfights. “Black Belt Hunter” was paired up against Ryan for a match in 2019, but it never came to fruition, and he said it’s hard to come up with the ideal strategy to stop him now.

“What Vieira stated was that he would try to keep up with him and utilize his passing skills. “I would obviously have to work hard on my leg lock defense, which is a flaw I have, and try to stay on top, because he has great passing game, very tight. He never seems to stop because he is under so much pressure. He doesn’t stop even at the bottom.

“People usually fight him very defensively. When I was in my prime and training no-gi quite a bit, it would be difficult for me to have faith in my passing skills. This is the way to stay in control and give him no room for error. Put pressure on him to release the guard by getting to his side, grabbing half of his body, and a arm-triangle choke. … But it’s hard to say. This would be my chance, since it wouldn’t from the bottom .”