Gordon Ryan: The King of ADCC BJJ Grappling Championships

Gordon Ryan is one of the most talented grapplers trained under John Danaher, the master of “impossible” sweeps, transitions, and submissions. One of the trickiest BJJ fighters to ever participate in this sport. He’s fast as lightning, ready to transition from north-south choke to a toe hold in a second.

Ryan has established himself as a force to be reckoned with in Jiu-Jitsu, having won five ADCC World Championships, two IBJJF World No-Gi Championships, and two IBJJF Pans No-Gi Championships.

But it does not end there. Ryan has also won multiple Eddie Bravo Invitational titles and has an incredible 54-win streak with a record-breaking submission rate.

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Ryan’s skill and dominance on the mat are unparalleled, and he has elevated professional grappling to unprecedented heights. Continue reading to discover how Gordon Ryan earned the title of “King”, why he is the best Jiu-Jitsu grappler in the world, and more Ryan’s BJJ facts you might not know. Stay tuned!

Gordon Ryan BJJ Beginning

Ryan was born in New Jersey on July 8th, 1995. Miguel Benitez introduced him to the BJJ at 15, but legendary Tom de Blass quickly noticed Ryan’s talent.

As Ryan’s results improved, he left his job to focus entirely on his athletic career. He then moved with Tonon to New York to train under the guidance of the legendary John Danaher at the Renzo Gracie Academy.

Danaher, a Ph.D. in philosophy, a martial arts devotee, and  Georges St-Pierre’s coach, turned Ryan into a submission machine and highly successful grappler.

Gordon Ryan’s Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Journey

After 6-month as a brown belt in which Ryan won notable tournaments such as the Newaza World Challenge and the IBJJF World NoGi Championship, Garry Tonon awarded him his black belt in February 2016.

Ryan’s black belt ceremony was attended by Tom deBlass, Ricardo Almeida, and John Danaher, who shared the responsibility of the new black belt.

Garry Tonon is the guy who officially helped the legendary Gordon Ryan reach the black belt. But say thanks to John Danaher for his fabulous achievements too!

Then, Gordon Ryan Eddie Bravo Invitational 4 caught the public’s interest. His tendency for an inside foot position was obvious even at that early stage. Ryan’s leg stomping when passing the guard is also noteworthy. His mastery of leg locks, the butterfly sweep, and the rear naked choke feature of his game.

The young Iron Dragon closed his first year as a black belt with a match against Felipe Pena, a formidable Brazilian jiu-jitsu technician who submitted big names like Lucas Barbosa and Marcus Almeida Buchecha.

Gordon Ryan’s ADCC World 2017

Ryan competed in the ADCC World Championship, also known as the Olympics of submission grappling, for the first time in 2017. It is a world-class grappling event that takes place every two years and brings together the world’s most dangerous limb collectors.

Gordon competed in the 88-kilogram division, where he faced Dillon Danis, a talented grappler with a world championship gold medal at the brown belt level, in the first round. Ryan defeated Dillon by a judge’s decision and advanced to face Romulo Barral,

Rumulo is a jiu-jitsu legend who had been competing at the highest level for over ten years, winning multiple World Jiu-Jitsu Championships. Ryan, on the other hand, shot a single and took the back before finishing Romulo with a rear naked choke.

Then, in the semi-final, Ryan won by a judge’s decision over Xande Ribeiro. Ryan faced Keenan Cornelius in the final, where he immediately declared his intention to win, secured a tight grip, and rolled back to BJJ Mount, finishing Keenan with a guillotine submission.

Ryan not only won gold in the weight division but also silver in the absolute division, where he lost in the final to Felipe Pena. As a result, Ryan has been crowned ADCC World Championships King.

Ryan’s 2018 World No-Gi and Pan-American NoGi Championships

Ryan’s career continued to flourish in 2018, with him dominating the Pan-American NoGi Championships, the Quintet event organized by Kazushi Sakuraba, shortly after the 2017 ADCC World Triumph.

Some people, believe it or not, questioned Ryan’s ability to win a traditional ruleset without using his go-to move, the heel hook!

To quiet the doubters, the American competed in the 2018 IBJJF NoGi World Championship, and boy did he deliver!

Of course, winning gold in both the weight division and the absolute, defeating competitors like Cyborg Abreu, Patrick Gaudio, and Yuri Simões.

Ryan’s ADCC World Championship 2019

In 2019, Ryan cemented his status as one of the best BJJ athletes of all time by winning double gold in the ADCC World Championship.

Despite suffering from a debilitating stomach illness and a broken hand before the tournament, Ryan decided to compete in the 99 kilograms division and the absolute.

In this world submission grappling event, Gordon Ryan defeated some big names in his weight division bracket, such as Pedro Marinho, Lucas Barbosa, Tim Spriggs, and Vinicius Ferreira.

In the Absolute bracket, Ryan performed as follows:

In the quarterfinals, Ryan faced Garry Tonon, a teammate and mentor, who was known for his aggressive submission-oriented style. However, Ryan’s experience and technical skill prevailed, and he defeated Tonon with a single-arm squeeze.

In the semifinals, Ryan faced Lachlan Giles, who was known for his knee-destroying game. However, Ryan successfully neutralized Giles’ attacks and mounted him for the win.

And, in the absolute final, Gordon beat Marcus Almeida Buchecha by a negative point, securing the second gold.

Gordon Ryan’s ADCC World 2022

Ryan’s journey to greatness reached new heights at the 2022 ADCC World Championship, which occurred in Las Vegas. He showed his dominance in the +99 kilograms weight bracket by defeating all his opponents and securing the gold medal.

In his opening round, Ryan took on Heikki Jussila and made quick work of him with an RNC choke. He then faced off against Victor Hugo and displayed his skills by winning with a comfortable 8-0 points victory.

The semi-final was no different, as Ryan defeated Roosevelt Sousa with a heel hook submission in just 11 seconds.

In the final match, Ryan went head-to-head with his former teammate and member of the Danaher Death Squad, Nick Rodriguez.

Despite the familiarity of the opponent, Ryan kept his focus and secured a heel hook submission to become the only ADCC World Champion in three different weight classes.

But Ryan’s victories didn’t end there. He also faced off against legendary jiu-jitsu competitor Andre Galvao in the 2022 ADCC superfight. Gordon defeated Andre with a rear naked choke submission, further cementing his place as one of the greatest jiu-jitsu practitioners of all time.

Gordon Ryan Split With Danaher Death Squad

This chapter of his life happened in 2021. John Danaher called the end of the Danaher Death Squad a unified training and competition team. There was a lot of tension between the team brand and the growing individual brands of members.

It led to the creation of New Wave Jiu-Jitsu by John Danaher and Gordon Ryan, including Garry Tonon and Oliver Taza.

Although, the rest of the high-level mat warriors made a new team called “B-Team Jiu-Jitsu” that includes Nicky Ryan (Gordon’s brother), Craig Jones, and Nicky Rodriguez. 

You can criticize Gordon Ryan all day, but he stayed loyal to his roots and the people who turned him into a superstar!

Gordon Ryan Has Never Taken Part In an MMA Bout

MMA fans are probably sad because the legendary Gordon Ryan might give many fighters a hard time.

His unorthodox takedowns and the mixture of shrimps and top and bottom control could lead to potential ground domination and the end of the bout via submission in the first round.

Yet, MMA is no joke; let’s be honest. Ryan would have to improve his stand-up game or at least his defense. When you shoot in, a Muay Thai guy can easily catch you with a big knee.

Therefore, he might need a few months to prepare for the highly-ranked opponent. Nevertheless, let’s hope to see him in the mixed martial arts bout in the years to come.

Gordon was inked with ONE Championship for a grappling bout with Shinya Aoki. The contract allowed him to participate in MMA if he wanted to. Yet, his health issues were too much.

Gordon Ryan Weight Class

Ryan is a super-heavy fighter who competes in the 100,50 kg (222.0 lbs) weight class, which lets him dominate the absolute (Open weight division).

You’re in big trouble if this skillful grappler ends up in top control, but you’re in an even more significant problem when he’s on his back. So stay away from his full guard by any means necessary!

Ryan Likes Incidents, Controversy, and Heated Trash Talk

We already described his heated arguments with Andre Galvao, but there were many more “victims” of Gordon Ryan.

For example, in October 2020, he revealed his private messages with Felipe Pena on the internet ahead of their third battle.

Gordon also accused 2019 ADCC medalist Lachlan Giles of taking PEDs in November 2020. There were also harassment comments towards the daughter of Erbeth Santos and a lot more.

Gordon Ryan Losses

Ryan lost once by submission against Felipe Pena in 2016 when he was 21 years old.

Otherwise, he also was defeated by elite names like Vinny Magalhaes, but all of his other losses came via points.

Yet, his wrestling skills constantly grow, and it’s almost impossible to finish him. He scored 9 losses, 3 draws, and impressive 153 victories – what a warrior!

Source: Lex Clips

Gordon Ryan Is a Very Much Atypical Fighter

If something’s peculiar for a regular BJJ guy, it will be perfectly normal for Gordon Ryan.

There are so many unusual shrimps, sweeps, transitions, and feints under his belt. His moves are super-hard to anticipate; if you’d like to stay undefeated against this guy, you must think and react quickly during the whole fight!

Gordon Ryan Loves Triangle Chokes

When on the bottom, Ryan will try to trick you into falling into his excellent triangle choke attempt. Too bad he hasn’t taken part in an MMA bout; he would have probably taught Dagestani wrestlers a lesson.

But he’s also a specialist in a reverse triangle choke, which is a problematic submission to master. This guy is dangerous from all angles.

Source: MastersmokeABUSE

Gordon Is a Fan of Heel Hooks

Ryan likes to fish for the inside heel hook from every single position. Could you take a look at his grappling record?

How many times have you seen the name of a lovely leg lock? He reminds me a bit of Rousimar Palhares of BJJ!

He’ll go for an outside heel hook when the opponent starts rotating to the opposite side. So the fight is over unless you react as soon as he gets a hold of your limb!

Ryan Likes Feinting, Tricky Shrimps, and Body Triangle Control

People rarely feint and use fakes in a BJJ bout because it’s about rolling, controlling, reaching the dominant position, or finishing the battle.

But Gordon Ryan pushed everything to a whole new level. He reminds me of the MMA fighter Israel Adesanya in the BJJ world.

Ryan likes to use tons of fake moves before going for the attack. It explains why engaging with him on the mats is so hard. And when he gets a hold of your back, the legendary star doesn’t want to let go.

He’s not going to change positions to collect points or go for control until the end of regular time. Although, He’s going to submit you and grab your leg before you even realize what happened!

Source: Bernardo Faria BJJ Fanatics

Gordon Ryan’s Medical Issues Gave Him a Hard Time Through His Career

Gordon suffered a Staph infection in 2018, so he had to take meds for his stomach. It gave him a hard time for four years. He officially retired from competition in 2021 to deal with his health problems, primarily diagnosed as Gastroparesis.

In August 2021, he announced that a gastroenterologist finally diagnosed him with “yeast and bacterial overgrowth,” which also impacted his kidneys.

Health issues are a part of the game, but Gordon’s problems worsened as time passed, so he had to pull a handbrake.

Yet, His career came to a halt, but we hope everything is ok ahead of the 2022 ADCC Super Fight. He looked good in his last two matches against Felipe Pena and Pedro Marinho.

Gordon Ryan Vs Felipe Pena

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The young Iron Dragon, Gordon Ryan, competed against Felipe Pena for the first time in 2016. Felipe is a formidable Brazilian jiu-jitsu technician who submitted big names like Lucas Barbosa and Marcus Almeida.

Ryan didn’t waste time, he started right away, working on attacking Pena using leg locks and sweeps.

But, Felipe’s balance and versatility allowed him to block Ryan’s attacks each time. And while Ryan was attempting an inside ashi-garami attack, Pena took Gordon’s wide-open back and finished him with a Rear Naked Choke.

Source: família bjj

Gordon Ryan vs Felipe Pena met again in the 2017 ADCC World absolute division final. The match was incredible, and despite Gordon’s desire to submit Pena, he was unsuccessful.

Felipe eventually secures a back-take to win the fight 3-0 to secure the second victory over Gordon Ryan.

Source: família bjj

Gordon Ryan and Felipe Pena reconnected at the WNO event in 2022. The match had no time limit, and whoever secured the submission won.

This time, Pena chooses to stop the fight at the 44-minute mark, giving Gordon his first victory over him.

Source: Tropa Pombo Sujo


Ryan Gordon is a very well-known BJJ black belt and a top-notch competitor. He is an excellent influencer, beef specialist, and fighter who can’t keep his mouth shut. Here are some of his superb grappling achievements:

  • WNO Heavyweight Champion (2022)
  • 1st Place ADCC World Championship (2017 / 2019** / 2022** )
  • 1st Place IBJJF World No-Gi Championship (2018**)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Pans No-Gi Championship (2018**)
  • 1st Place Quintet 3 (2018*)

*-Absolute, **- Weight, And Absolute

Related: Participating in top-tier competitions will let you unleash your competitive spirit and improve your Brazilian jiu-jitsu abilities to the next level. Click here to discover the top BJJ tournaments that will inspire you.

Gordon has shown that everybody can overcome health issues and problems with the power of will and dedication. As a result, his career should rise wildly if he beats his fellow rival, Andre Galvao.

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Frequently Asked Question

What Is Gordon Ryan’s Grappling Record?

Gordon Ryan is a well-known name in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He has competed in top grappling tournaments and has more than 165 matches, with an incredible 82% submission record and a stunning 54 straight wins.

Who Is Gordon Ryan’s Jiu-Jitsu Coach?

John Danaher is Gordon Ryan’s jiu-jitsu coach. Danaher is a well-known Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA coach and teacher noted for his distinctive teaching style and technical knowledge.

Danaher’s outstanding grappling teaching has taken Gordon’s game to the next level, achieving great success in the world of submission grappling.

What Makes Gordon Ryan So Good?

Gordon Ryan is generally considered one of the all-time best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu athletes. Several variables contribute to his success and distinguish him from his classmates.

First and foremost, Ryan has an excellent memory. He has a considerably higher capacity to remember strategies given to him than other sportsmen. This provides him with a huge arsenal of methods from which to draw throughout a grappling match.

Second, Gordon is very proud of his technical skill and would never settle for anything less than perfection. He is intolerant of flaws and is always seeking ways to better his game.

Third, Ryan has an exceptional capacity to capitalize on opportunities as they emerge. He never hesitates and is always ready to act, making him a maximalist when it comes to opportunity.

Fourth, Ryan has a great BJJ defensive game. He works diligently on his defensive positions, polishing them to razor-sharpness. This breadth of his technological knowledge distinguishes him from his contemporaries.

Finally, Ryan’s self-assurance is an important aspect of his success. He possesses great leg lock defense, which allows him to play freely and confidently.

When Did Gordon Ryan Start BJJ?

Gordon Ryan began training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the age of 15 in 2010. Miguel Benitez introduced him to BJJ, but his skill was immediately spotted by Tom de Blass, a famous BJJ practitioner.

How Tall Is Gordon Ryan? and How Much Does He Weigh?

Gordon Ryan is 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 meters) tall and weighs 218 pounds (99 kilograms)

Has Gordon Ryan Ever Been Submitted?

Gordon King Ryan has been submitted once by Felipe Pena in 2016.

How Long Did It Take Gordon Ryan to Achieve the Black Belt?

Gordon Ryan earned his BJJ black belt in six years. He began training in BJJ at the age of 15 in 2010 and instantly grew enamored with the discipline. Then, in August 2016, he received his black belt rank under Garry Tonon lineage.

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