ADCC 2019 is officially over, but yes, we’re still buzzing about it. This year’s event was memorable for a lot of reasons, from the 10/10 production quality delivered by Fight 2 Win to the crazy upsets to the sheer level of jiu-jitsu that was displayed on the mats.
While it’s hard to narrow it down, here are our top five moments that left us yelling obscenities, in no particular order:
1. Ffion Davies submits Bia Mesquita.
Even though Davies has come into her own as a black belt and repeatedly established herself as one of the top grapplers of her generation, she was still the underdog going into this match. It’s not that anyone was questioning her abilities — Mesquita is just a terrifying and talented competitor. And considering that Mesquita had already soundly defeated Davies in the finals at the UAEJJF World Pro earlier this year, many people were expecting a similar result at ADCC.
Davies, though, pulled off the win in stunning and horrifying fashion, extending Mesquita’s arm to an unnatural and damage-inducing bend before Mesquita finally tapped out. While Mesquita hasn’t made the extent of the damage publicly known, she was walking around afterward with her arm in a sling. Davies ended up earning silver in her division, but a submission win over Mesquita is a victory in itself.
2. Nick Rodriguez makes it to the finals.
Look, we’ve known that Rodriguez was very, very good for a while now. You can’t qualify for ADCC with less than a year’s worth of jiu-jitsu if you’re not very, very good. But still, seeing his hand raised in a match against Mahamed Aly was nuts. It only got crazier from there as he also defeated former ADCC champ Orlando Sanchez and then Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu.
Rodriguez, a blue belt at the time, was then in the +99kg finals against Kaynan Duarte, and although Duarte finally put a stop to his pursuit for gold, Rodriguez still stole the show. He went from being an underdog — the “good enough to qualify, but surely not good enough to beat black belt world champions” type — to being accepted as a worthy adversary for the very accomplished Duarte in the finals of the most elite grappling competition in the world.
3. Gordon Ryan becomes double-gold winner.
No one was surprised when Gordon Ryan won gold in the 99kg division, and even though the entire room was holding its breath when he went up against Lachlan Giles in the absolute division (more on that later), no one was really surprised when he won that one either. But still, watching it all go down live, especially after Ryan had such a long hiatus after being injured months ago, felt like being a part of a very important moment in jiu-jitsu history. Ryan is a notorious trash-talker, and whether or not you agree with how he conducts himself online, there’s something to be said for a competitor who can back up their trolling by actually winning what they say they’re going to win at the highest level of their chosen discipline. Especially when you consider that Ryan was sick with the stomach flu at the event and had injured his hand in a freak accident beforehand.
4. Lachlan Giles takes down three giants in the absolute division.
Watching Lachlan Giles heel hook +99kg champion Kaynan Duarte after losing the first round of the 77kg division the day before would’ve been enough to earn the “Biggest Upset of ADCC” title, but for Giles, “enough” wasn’t enough. He went on to heel hook 99kg competitor Patrick Gaudio in round two, and by this point, people were starting to think that if anyone was going to take out Gordon Ryan, it was going to be Australia’s most dangerous 77kg animal. While Giles ultimately got submitted by Ryan, he did have the opportunity to compete for bronze, and he delivered. Giles made quick work of +99kg competitor Mahamed Aly, heel hooking him and earning the opportunity to stand on the podium alongside Ryan and Buchecha. The crowd chanted his name, and Giles became the people’s champion. Hopefully more people will take Mahamed Aly’s lead and start investing in his DVDs.
5. Tye Ruotolo makes it to the semi-finals at age 16.
Have you ever rolled with a teenager who’s been training jiu-jitsu for a while and can already beat you up? The Ruotolo brothers are basically That Teenager, but way scarier.
Blue belt Tye Ruotolo made his mark on the world when he defeated multiple-time ADCC veteran Bruno Frazatto in round one of the 66kg division. He then went on to beat 2017 fourth-place winner Pablo Mantovani in the quarter-finals. Although he fell short to Kennedy Maciel in the semi-finals, the sixteen-year-old phenom had already proven that he is a serious force to be reckoned with… and is only going to get better in the coming years.