A Breif History of ADCC and The Growth of Grappling

5 min read
Find out what makes ADCC so important for grappling and Jiu-Jitsu, and how it has grown over the years… this year it will be HUGE!

2015 ADCC Championships with Pena

A Breif History of ADCC and The Growth of Grappling

Find out what makes ADCC so important for grappling and Jiu-Jitsu, and how it has grown over the years… this year it will be HUGE!


Location: Orlando, FL.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Photo by: adcc_official

ADCC, The Abu Dhabi Combat Club, is known for its Elite Grappling World Championships. It is viewed by many as the most prestigious competition for no-gi grappling combat the world over. These championships consist of grappling athletes known for their successes in other competitions and the ADCC trials, which are held all over the world to seek out the best talent for ADCC. 

Current Weight Divisions


  • Absolute Class
  • +99 kg (+220.5 lbs)
  • -98.9 kg (-218.0 lbs)
  • -87.9 kg (-193.7 lbs)
  • -76.9 kg (-169.5 lbs)
  • -65.9 kg (-145.2 lbs)


  • +60.0 kg (-132.2 lbs)
  • -60.0 kg (-132.2 lbs)[1]

The Beginning

Sheik Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the creator of ADCC hosted the first competition in 1998 with the help of his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor Nelson Monteiro. Many competitors competing in the ADCCs come from the IBJJF BJJ competitive scene, which has far more regulations than ADCC… This often makes for some brutal creativity on the mats to the spectator’s delight.

Rules Here: https://adcombat.com/adcc-rules-regulations/ 

As mentioned, the first-ever competition was hosted in 1998 by Abu Dhabi, consisting of Alexander Freitas, Renzo Gracie, Rodrigo Gracie, Ricco Rodriguez, and Mario Sperry. What an epic lineup of the best competitors of the time! With the growth of grappling and Jiu-Jitsu as a whole over the past 2+ decades, ADCC was initially created to capture that premium grappling experience in proper Abu Dhabi fasion… the middle east, and especially Saudi Arabia, have massive respect for grappling as they see it as a true tough guys sport…. and it is! Before ADCC and really IBJJF, most world-class grappling athletes used to only compete in places like high schools or abandoned open stadiums with next to no rules or weight classes…. truly dog-eat-dog. 

One of ADCC’s flagship event organizers from 2019 to present is Mo Jassim. He mentions, “Jiu-jitsu athletes don’t make money,” and ADCC has actually been unprofitable since 1998 [3]. However, in 2019 they broke through that barrier. Jassim sold 4,000+ tickets in September 2019, and even sold double that number in just 18 hours on Black Friday last year!

Atypical sponsors have also noticed this growth, including Gordon Ryan, who received a $100,000 sponsorship from WhyBitcoinCash. This sponsorship amount and level are unprecedented in the grappling world.

Gordon Ryan

Gordon Ryan, born July 8, 1995, is best known for his no-gi submission prowess; he is one of the reasons Jiu-Jitsu has grown so much over the last few years with his constant call-outs and famous pre-match envelop predictions. He is a three-time ADCC World Champion, with his first win, at the 88kgm weight class in 2017. He then came back for two more victories in 2019 in the -99kg and the absolute category [4]. His favorite techniques include the Triangle and Heel-Hook. Known as “The King” for his expert grappling, Ryan will be competing in this year’s tournament in September and also in a super fight against his primary rival André Galvão. 

Gordon Ryan and His Epic Track Record

Gordon Ryan vs Keenan Cornelius ADCC 2017 

Keenan Cornelius was warned before the match of the famous “Gordon Guillotine,” which is one of Gordon’s go-to moves. After the maneuver was tightened and tightened on Cornelius, he taps, ending the match and giving the win to Gordon Ryan. A few years after his victory, Gordon Ryan posted a video explaining his win against Cornelius, and it was all a matter of understanding the importance of frequent practice. Keenan Cornelius did not have a place to train for the longest; the last four weeks before the tournament, he trained for it, but only twice a week. Gordon Ryan, however, had a much better training schedule, leading to his advantage [5]

Gordon Ryan vs Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida ADCC 2019

Gordon Ryan and Marcus Almeida are both known for their unique BJJ styles and, being two of the best, to grace the mats with an amazing finals battle shown below. Ryan showed a fantastic Butterfly sweep in the early stage of their fight. Many fans today still look back on that sweep because of how gracefully it was done but how massive of an effect it had on Almeida. 

Gordon Ryan vs Vinicius Gazola ADCC 2019

Looking to Vinicius Gazola, Ryan taught another influential message to fans watching; he shows no sign of frustration. Instead, he puts deep thought into every move he makes, being patient and executing what he needs for a successful match. Although Ryan’s legs were latched on tight, he used Gazola’s trap to his advantage to flip him over and set up a back attack, leading to Gazola’s tap and loss. 

The Growth Continues for ADCC

Looking to the future, Mo Jassim, the event organizer, wants to grow ADCC Championships by adding more women’s divisions and letting the bigger competitors be able to compete in other divisions that are not the main event. 

In 2021, ADCC was awarded “Promotion of the year” in the 2021 BJJ Awards despite a 2-year break (2020-2021) due to the rise of Covid-19. This gave coordinators enough time to prepare for their upcoming 2022 ADCC World Championship, which should be the biggest event to date!

See you there! 


[1] https://adcombat.com/adcc-rules-regulations/official-adcc-weight-classes [Weight Divisions]

[2] https://adcombat.com/adcc-rules-regulations/ [Rules]

[3] https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianroberts/2022/02/23/adcc-and-gordon-ryans-100k-sponsorship-are-proof-jiu-jitsu-pays/?sh=c09c1a572fdb[History]

[4] https://www.flograppling.com/people/5950166-gordon-ryan [Gordon Ryan]

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBFnSFXR4qI [What happened to Keenan]



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