Considered to be the GOAT in No Gi grappling by many, Gordon Ryan has been the athlete who brought the most attention to him and the sport in recent years with his amazing results and controversial persona off the mats. He has won three ADCC titles, two IBJJF World Titles, two Pan-American titles and four EBI titles in a period of just three years! That combined with his trash talking and strong social media presence has won him the love and the hate of many BJJ fans. However, in this article we`re not going to discuss his charisma and self-confidence, but we are going to look at some of the techniques that he has successfully used on many occasions against some of the biggest names in No Gi grappling.
Shoulder Crunch Sweep/ Sumi Gaeshi Sweep from Butterfly Guard
Although it`s considered that in heavyweight No Gi grappling bottom position should be avoided, King Ryan is not hesitant when he has to use his guard. One of his best sweeps is the Shoulder Crunch Sweep or what he calls “Sumi Gaeshi” à la John Danaher style. Gordon makes his opponents post with their hands on the mat by getting an inside position with his legs and arms and elevating them. From there he pinches the head and the shoulder and executes a butterfly-sweep-like motion with his legs. He doesn`t let go of the upper body grips till the very end of the sweep. When the opponent denies the initial sweep, he switches sides of the attack. He has successfully used this sweep against Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida, Keenan Cornelius and other top grapplers.
Here Ryan explains how he set up the sweep against “Buchecha” at ADCC 2019 for BJJFanatics:
Rear Naked Choke with one or two arms
30% of Gordon`s submissions have come after managing to secure a Rear Naked Choke, or as he and his master call it – Rear Naked Strangle. That makes this vintage submission the most successful one for the 24-years old phenom. Not only Ryan, but also other members from Danaher`s Death Squad are famous for their abilities to finish their opponents when they get back control. The Jersey born grappler and his teammates have specialized in isolating both of their opponents arms (usually with their legs and wrist control) and then relentlessly attacking the neck until they get the finish. They have called their sequence of grip switching and attacks “The Straitjacket System” and have had a tremendous success at EBI tournaments with it. Gordon, who usually takes the back when attacking the turtle position from a wrestling scramble, has won the final of his -99 kg. division against Marcelo Garcia`s top heavyweight Vinicius “Trator Ferreira with a one-arm RNC. He also landed the RNC against Lachlan Giles, Tim Spriggs and Ben Hodgkinson at the same tournament.
Here you can see a simple explanation of his back attack system in YouTube Channel “Teach Me Grappling”:
Is the very first thing you think about when you hear Danaher Death Squad leg locks? If that is so, then you’re probably not far away from the truth. Around 20% of Gordon`s submissions come from either an inside or an outside heel hook. King Ryan feels no pressure when exchanging attacks in 50/50 position, however, he prefers to go for cross ashi-garami/honey hole from an inside leg position and finish with an inside heel hook or go to an outside heel hook from regular ashi garami. The 3x ADCC gold medalists often goes for the heel hook when a butterfly sweep fails. Gordon also has 3 kneebar victories all coming from cross ashi garami. In his recent fights he tapped UFC heavyweight Aleksei Oleinik with a kneebar from cross ashi garami and Gabriel Gonzaga (former UFC heavyweight) with a heel hook from ashi garami.
Gordon Ryan`s wrestling abilities and physicality also contribute to his mesmerizing success in No Gi grappling. He looks better and stronger with each match which leads to two questions: How good can Gordon Ryan get and is he the GOAT of No Gi grappling? He still has unfinished business with Felipe Pena and a super-fight in 2021 with 6x ADCC champion Andre Galvao. His performances against these fighters will be crucial for his legacy in combat sports.