Gordon Ryan – Jiu-Jitsu Legend

Gordon Ryan - Jiu-Jitsu Legend

Gordon Ryan started training Jiu Jitsu when he was 15 years old. At first, he briefly trained under Miguel Benetez until he switched academies to Ocean County Jiu Jitsu.

Once there, Ryan started training under Renzo Gracie black belt Tom deBlass. Also taking classes with deBlass’ young pupil Garry Tonon, who would later become Ryan’s teammate and close friend.

When Gordon Ryan started training with deBlass, he really started to show that he had a knack for Jiu Jitsu. Along with Tonon, Ryan became one of deBlass’ top students.

He started competing at local Jiu Jitsu tournaments primarily in the No-Gi divisions. Gordon Ryan would win 3 Grappler’s Quests tournaments in a row including the organization’s championship at 160lbs.

Date of Birth:July 8th, 1995
Place of Birth:Monroe Township, New Jersey
Nickname: The King
Team:New Wave Jiu Jitsu
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:218 lb (99 kg)
Weight Class:Super-Heavyweight
BJJ Record: 143-10-3
Championships: 3x ADCC Champion, 3x BJJ No-Gi World Champion

Ryan trains under John Danaher

Since Gordan Ryan was one of duBlass’ best students, he would soon start making trips with him to New York City. Going there to train with his instructor Renzo Gracie and friend John Danaher.

Garry Tonon would also make these trips to attend Danaher’s classes in Renzo’s infamous blue basement. Danaher would begin teaching his leg lock system to the two and also original Death Squad member Eddie Cummings.

Training with Danaher really brought the best out of Gordon Ryan and with duBlass’ blessing, John became Gordon’s coach.

Gordan Ryan would continue to have a lot of success at the lower level tournaments. Nearly qualified for the ADCC championship when he was 20. Then winning the No-Gi world championship at brown belt in 2015.

His stellar run through the lower belts led to Garry Tonon awarding him with his blackbelt in 2016. The ceremony happened at Renzo’s school with Gracie, deBlass, and Danaher all in attendance.

The Danaher Death Squad

When Eddie Bravo began putting on the Eddie Bravo Invitational, Garry Tonon and then teammates were dominating the Bravo’s tournaments. Both won Bravo’s early tournaments using Danaher’s leg lock system, submitting nearly all of their opponents. 

This was when the Danaher Death Squad started coming onto the Jiu Jitsu scene. Then after Gordon Ryan received his black belt, the team would take over Jiu Jitsu.

Gordon Ryan
Gordon Ryan

Gordon Ryan’s EBI run

Before getting his black belt, Gordon Ryan was already extremely active with competitions and  after he became the most active BJJ athlete. Ryan’s coming out party to the world would take place at EBI 6 in 2016.

He would enter the absolute tournament seemingly unknown against multiple time No-GI champions. The favorite of the tournament being 5x world No-Gi champion and then reigning ADCC champion Yuri Simoes.

At the tournament, the Jiu Jitsu world would be put on notice. Ryan completely dominated the tournament, submitting all 4 of his opponent’s with ease to win his first EBI title.

Then 7 months later at EBI 8 it would be the same result. 4 fights and 4 submissions for Ryan. Repeating this yet again a year later at EBI 11, submitting all 4 of his opponents.

Gordon Ryan’s first ADCC gold medal

In 2017, Gordon Ryan would qualify for the ADCC championships held in Finland that year. The tournament that he came up just short of qualifying for 2 years prior.

With the ADCC being the most prestigious  No-Gi tournament in the world, this was Ryan’s time to create his legacy.

He would compete in the 88 kg in a stacked division against 4 former BJJ world champions. Gordon would beat Dillon Danis by points in his first match and then submit Rommulo Barral with an RNC.

Then in the semis, he beat Alexandre Ribeiro by points to meet Keenan Cornelius in the finals. There he would submit Keenan with an RNC to win his first ADCC gold medal.

Ryan neary earned double gold at the tournament, but lost to Felipe Pena in the absolute finals by points.

Double gold at ADCC 2019

Coming up short of double gold in 2017 only motivated Gordon to become an even better competitor. In between ADCC tournaments, he would win the Pans and No-Gi World championships in 2018 before competing at ADCC 2019.

In 2019, the stage was set for Ryan to further add to his legacy. He would put his name in the history books winning the 99kg and absolute division at ADCC 2019.

At just 24 years old, Gordon Ryan had already become one of the greatest competitors of all time.

DDS moves to Puerto Rico

In late 2020, the Danaher Death Squad made a surprise move leaving Renzo’s in New York to open their own academy. They would build their own school on the beaches of Puerto Rico.

Ryan along with the rest of the Death Squad’s goal was to build a super team located in a tropical paradise. Top Australian competitor and ADCC medalist Craig Jones would also join the team and move to Puerto Rico with them.

Gordon Ryan
Gordon Ryan

The Andre Galvao feud

After winning the ADCC absolute division in 2019, this set up a match between Gordon Ryan and ADCC superfight champ Andre Galvao.

Although, there was a lot of uncertainty if the match would take place. Galvao claimed he was retired, but the two would go back and forth with each other for years online.

This would create a feud between Atos and the DDS. Tensions would reach their boiling point at a WNO show in Austin, Texas in March of 2021.

Gordon Ryan would slap Galvao on two occasions at the event. Once after Andre flipped him off before the show and again after the show, where Danaher separated the two.

If these two will ever meet in a match is still up in the air.

Gordon Ryan’s retirement

For the last three years Gordon Ryan has had numerous health problems stemming from staph medications. In June of 2021, Ryan made the tough decision to step down from competition and has essentially retired.

It is still up in the air if we will ever see Ryan compete again.

Gordon Ryan

DDS breakup and Ryan’s new school

In August of 2021, the BJJ community was shocked to learn that the Danaher Death Squad were going their separate ways. The news was broken by John Danaher, who announced the break up in an instagram post on his page.

Then on the heels of this news, Gordon Ryan announced that he, Tonon, and Danaher were opening a new gym. Their new gym would be located in Austin, Texas and would be named “New Wave Jiu Jitsu.”