Gordon Ryan clarifies statement on ADCC prize money, ADCC promoter reacts

The debate surrounding prize money in the Abu Dhabi Combat Club has ignited a firestorm of discussions within the grappling community. At the center of this controversy is Gordon Ryan who previously advocated for significant increases in prize money to elevate the sport’s profile. However, recent events have led Gordon to clarify his stance, and claim he was misquoted.

Gordon Ryan initially called for drastic prize money increases, arguing that higher stakes would attract top-tier athletes and boost the event’s visibility. “I think you either have to increase the prize money so drastically that it’s like by far the highest payment in spend, like grappling events, period,” he stated.

The current ADCC champion receives a relatively modest $10,000 for winning their weight class, a figure that some consider inadequate given the event’s success.

However, Craig Jones, Gordon’s former teammate, highlighted the discrepancy between ADCC’s financial success and the prize money awarded to competitors. He pointed out that while the event’s popularity and revenue have soared, the prize money has remained stagnant, despite the exponential growth in attendance and visibility.


In response, Seth Daniels, ADCC’s co-promoter, provided a detailed breakdown of the event’s expenses, including venue costs, production costs, and travel and accommodation expenses for athletes, judges, and referees. Daniels emphasized that the event has never generated a profit, despite its popularity and global reach.

“In 2022 the prize money for ADCC was $330,600. Venue cost was $662,000. Production cost $413,000 and over $500,000 flying in over 105 athletes from all over the world putting them up at the MGM grand for 4 days, feeding and transporting them. Not to mention flying in all the judges and referees.”

“It’s truly mind blowing to me how ignorant some people are assuming the event is making millions do the fucking math. We have never made a dollar on a world championship.”

“Athletes also make money on their sponsorships, video sales , seminars, super fights after and everything else they gain from Adcc exposure.”

“ADCC worlds is by far the most attended, most watched and greatest grappling event in the world. There is no comparison this is a fact.”

“If you think you can do better go raise $2,000,000 just to pay for T-Mobile arena not to mention all the other cost and do it your self.”

Amidst the ongoing discussions, Gordon Ryan sought to clarify his stance on the prize money debate. He expressed his belief that winning the ADCC should be celebrated for its historical significance and prestige, akin to winning an Olympic medal. “You win ADCC because it is the absolute pinnacle of the sport. Winning ADCC cements you a name in history,” he explained.

Gordon advocated for equal prize money across all divisions, suggesting that the open division should not receive disproportionately higher payouts. He proposed a first-place prize of approximately $100,000, which would be double the highest payout in other tournaments.

“My take on ADCC and prize money is simple. You win ADCC because it is the absolute pinnacle of the sport. Winning ADCC cements you a name in history. You don’t compete in the Olympics to win money, you compete in the Olympics to tell people you’re an Olympic champion. Basics. officialls must put a set pay in this. ADCC should leave the prize relatively equal in all divisions. I don’t believe the open will deserve the prize money so much more division has a 1st place prize of at least 2x the highest payout in other tournaments, which would be approx 100k prize.”

“I don’t think it makes sense for the world’s premier grappling tournament to put an emphasis on money UNLESS they emphasize that it is not only the sport’s most respected tournament under their st alone, but also the sport’s most lucrative tournament. So, in short, leave the prize as is, which on paper it should be the same and ADCC hasn’t changed it for a decade”

“Leading money for 30 years and then having athletes complain they’re not getting paid enough just shows you how insanely stupid they are and their lack of understanding of how business works…. BR represents the league where no other tournament can compete. ADCC is number 1 in terms of prestige and Ben it makes little sense to increase third-place money if it’s not them putting themselves in a position to be the number 1 payout organization in the sport.”

“The entire brand of ADCC is built on being the best of the best. Either leave it or increase it exponentially. As the end of the day, the owner of ADCC owes us nothing. He’s doing this to help grow the sport. Ever watch we’ve watched him literally take years off his life dealing with the stresses of this event, literally tell him all the time to simply leave and focus on his life happily, since all he does with is this sport, helping run associations, stabbing cockroaches He sticks in there because he truly wants to help the athletes the lives and just ultimately grow what We as people owe us nothing. ”

Furthermore, Gordon acknowledged the sacrifices made by Sheikh Tahnoon, the founder of ADCC, who has lost tens of millions of dollars over the event’s 30-year existence due to his passion for jiu-jitsu and desire to grow the sport. He emphasized that athletes owe Sheikh Tahnoon a debt of gratitude for his unwavering commitment to the sport’s development.

“People’s inherent stupidity never ceases to amaze me. Their ability to misquote me or take things I say completely out of context is incredible. I will make this very clear, one more time. I have been asked specifically about ADCC prize money in interviews. If I were you, I’d be smart enough to watch the full interview. ADCC was created in the late 90s and started taking place every year, then transitioned to every 2 years. Sheikh Tahnoon created ADCC because he loved the sport, because he wanted to see it grow, and because he ultimately just wanted to see the best athletes compete. In the almost 30 years of existence, ADCC has never made a profit. In the last 30 years, this man has lost 10s of millions of dollars simply because he loves jiu jitsu.”

“If ADCC were to owe anyone anything, it’s me. I expect nothing and feel I don’t deserve anything more than they’re willing to give. They’re far easier to work with, and doing a lot for the sport, all while losing money. Last year, when mo said he was trying to raise extra money for the super fight, I told him I didn’t need any extra. I even told him I’d do it for free and that he could give my share to ADCC if it meant I could get my hands on him.

“Beating Andre was worth way more to my legacy than the 40k I won to beat him. Some things run deeper than money, which is funny, seeing as one of the athletes criticizing the pay famously said on media “there’s more to life than medals and money”, but I guess when push comes to shove he really cared about the money I guess it’s best to focus on the money anyways when you understand you’ll never win. Which, many of the athletes complaining about the prize money also can’t ever win the fckng event. ”

“It’s mind boggling how entitled some of these losers are when they aren’t bringing in the event and don’t even have the ability to beat the other half of the one who should be the most demanding and I’ve never asked for a single thing above what ADCC has offered because they’ve always been good to me. That’s how the world works. Every ADCC I partake in will be the gordon ryan show. If you’re there, just shut up & watch.”

This debate is interesting especially considering IBJJF was pressured to modify their practices several years ago after a similar outcry. ADCC promoter Mo Jassim previously acknowledged that MMA athletes would previously regularly compete in the event due to the prize itself, but as the sport of MMA grew the compensation in it far surpassed ADCC’s current offering.

It’s also interesting to note, Jassim was prepared to offer $1M to Khabib Nurmagomedov several years ago to compete in an exhibition during the event.