Gordon Ryan has had a memorable 2021 thus far to say the least.
In March, Ryan signed a deal with ONE Championship to compete in grappling and, possibly, MMA should he decide to make the transition. A black belt under Garry Tonon, who is 6-0 as a MMA fighter inside the ONE cage, Ryan has won multiple no-gi championships with wins over MMA veterans like Josh Barnett, Gabriel Gonzaga, Rousimar Palhares, Dillon Danis and Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida, who also recently signed a deal with ONE for his MMA debut.
Prior to signing the deal with ONE, Ryan made headlines across the combat sports world after an altercation with fellow grappling name and former Strikeforce veteran Andre Galvao. Ryan picked up a mounted armbar submission win over Roberto Jimenez at February’s Who’s #1 grappling event, while his teammate Craig Jones an inside heel hook submission win over Galvao’s teammate Ronaldo Souza Junior.
Following Jones’ victory, things began to boil between Ryan and Galvao, which eventually led to Ryan slapping Galvao twice, which was captured on video by FloCombat.
During a recent appearance on What the Heck, Ryan gave his side of the incident.
“Two of our teammates were competing and I went up to shake his hand, I went up to shake his hand—John [Danaher] shook his hand—and I went to shake his hand after the match and Ronaldo didn’t shake me hand, and Andre flipped me off,” Ryan told MMA Fighting. “I was just like, whatever, and started laughing because that’s who I am. Then I walked away and it was no big deal.
“So it was in a hotel and there was no audience, and they basically just laid down mats in the conference room and hung black sheets around so you couldn’t see anything in the background and that was the competition stage. The second you go out of that area, it’s basically just a dark room. I walked through the sheets and Andre is just sitting there, almost like he’s waiting for me. He started cursing at me, and this is weird because it’s sort of off-character for him because there’s no cameras around—or he thought there wasn’t.
“So he started calling me a b*tch and a p*ssy, and I just started laughing. And then he started walking towards me and he was like, ‘Why are you running away?’ So I was like, I can’t get punked like this. So I turn around and tell him I’m not running, and he kept walking up to me and pushed me. That’s the most you can do before there’s a fight so I’m assuming there’s gonna be a fist fight. So let me start off this fist fight with a smack and see how he responds. I smacked him the first time and there was no retaliation of any kind so I knew this guy doesn’t want to fight.”
After the first slap and not getting a physical response, Ryan assumed he had proven his point. As he headed to the interview area, Galvao continued to express his frustrations towards his foe.
At that point, Ryan was again preparing for a physical confrontation and approached Galvao once again. Once more, Ryan landed another open hand slap on Galvao, although this one wasn’t as visible in the video. However, the sound of hand hitting face was undeniable.
“I started walking away again because I had to do an interview, and he started walking up on me again with my back turned,” Ryan said. “So I’m thinking, maybe he wants to fight now and I walk towards him like we’re gonna fight and I smacked him again. He backed up again and kept talking, talking, talking and he’s like, ‘The cops are gonna come.’ First of all, there’s a mutual combat law in Texas. If two parties agree to fight, it’s perfectly legal to fight, so that doesn’t make any sense. Second of all, I don’t know what he expected calling me a p*ssy, walking up on me and pushing me. I don’t know what he expected to happen. I was just rolling with the punches and that’s what happened.”
The two-time IBJJF No-Gi world champion is no stranger to things getting a little crazy in the grappling world, but each instance occurred during a match. Sometimes, tempers get a bit flared while in competition, as it did in a 2018 IBJJF World Championship matchup against Roberto Abreu.
During the match, Abreu would deliver some aggressive collar ties, which looked more like slaps. Abreu was eventually disqualified for his actions.
Off the mats, this was the first time Ryan had to deal with anything physical like this at an event.
“Sometimes things happen on the mats and you leave it on the mats,” Ryan explained. “Andre just confronted me out of the blue when there was nobody around. People don’t mention this, but can you imagine what people would think if I was on camera getting pushed by Andre and then me punking out and walking away? I would never live it down. When he’s pushing me, I’m like, we’ll fight, let me start it off with a smack. That’s not he wanted, clearly, so I just walked away and did the interview.”
Ryan told MMA Fighting that he is currently not planning on making the transition to MMA as he believes the world of grappling is on the cusp of bigger things. The excitement to compete is there, but he believes making the move to mixed martial arts competition would be “a disservice” to the sport he loves so much.
When asked if the video if him slapping Galvao going viral made him regret his decision to slap Galvao, Ryan said if he could go back in time, he would do the exact same thing all over again.
“I think it was an appropriate response,” Ryan stated. “It was just enough to send a clear message that you can’t just bully me around, but it wasn’t enough to seriously injure him, which I didn’t want to do unless he wanted to actually fight me. It was a clear message, just like the internet, if you start with me, I’m gonna retaliate. If you walk up to me in person and try to fight me then we can fight.
“Everyone is like, ‘Gordon only talks online but he’s nice in person,’ and I am. But if you’re serious and you want to fight me then we’ll just fight. That’s the next step. It’s not that big of a deal. We fight, we shake hands, and we go home.”
As of now, the current plan for the next ADCC Superfight event is for Ryan and Galvao to compete. When asked if Galvao reached out to him after the fact to apologize, Ryan said that he released a video apology that, in his mind, made Galvao look even worse than getting slapped in the face.
“I didn’t watch it, but apparently he issued an apology a week later and then just used the apology to promote a 50 percent [off] sale for his school website,” Ryan said. “I was like, I don’t know if Andre could make this any worse for himself and he managed to make it worse for himself. People were kind of buying it saying it was sincere and then he’s like, ‘Oh, by the way, 50 percent off’, and he just lost everyone there.
“I’m just waiting to see if he does this superfight or not. Once he pulls out of it, then I guess we can call a truce. But until then, he’s still my enemy and I’m still competing against him in the ADCC Superfight and that’s what it is. I don’t think he’s gonna show up. I think he’s gonna milk it for as long as possible, get as much promotion as he can, and then he’ll pull out. Even if he agrees and accepts, he’s just gonna fake an injury or something to get as much promotion as he can.”