Gordon Ryan Blasts Female BJJ Athletes Equal Pay Demands: ‘If You Can’t Figure Out How to Make Money, Blame Yourself’

Gordon Ryan Blasts Female BJJ Athletes Equal Pay Demands: ‘If You Can’t Figure Out How to Make Money, Blame Yourself’

Gordon Ryan, considered the No Gi GOAT in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu , recently stirred controversy with his comments regarding equal pay for female athletes in the sport. In a statement that has since sparked heated debate across the BJJ community, Ryan bluntly addressed the issue, asserting that the gender pay gap in jiu-jitsu is not a result of discrimination but rather a reflection of market demand and individual branding efforts.

Ryan’s remarks came in response to a statement from ADCC and BJJ world female champion Ffion Davies who had recently highlighted a big issue concerning ladies who teach and compete. And that’s the lack of (proper) pay.
Here’s what Davies had to say:

To my fellow pro ladies – please please PLEASE don’t accept low or no pay for your classes, seminars or matches on shows.

She went on to explain why:

If you’re suffering from impostor syndrome like I did, a great perspective I heard years ago from Livia Giles was that if we don’t charge our worth, we set a precedent that the girls coming up behind us won’t be able to demand the pay they deserve and undercut them.

Davies concluded:

You deserve to be paid on professional shows, you deserve to be paid for your classes.
We would not expect this of men, and this is how we support women’s BJJ – by supporting the athletes also.

Gordon personally blasted Ffion Davies on his IG and dismissed the notion that gender plays a significant role in determining compensation in the sport, instead attributing pay differentials to factors such as viewer interest and personal branding. Ryan’s statement, while polarizing, underscores broader discussions about gender equality and financial equity in sports.

1st – for everyone whining about “how are you attacking ffion davies,” Shut up. She attacked me far before I ever mentioned her. You just don’t know about it. It was also completely unprovoked.

The crux of Ryan’s argument lies in the principle of supply and demand. According to him, the reason female athletes in jiu-jitsu receive lower pay is not because of their gender but rather due to the comparatively lower viewership they attract. Ryan contends that the best female athletes, both present and past, have not garnered the same level of attention and engagement as their male counterparts, resulting in a disparity in earnings:

Now, let’s break this down. Turning this into a men vs. woman thing is a joke. It’s like when the WNBA players talk about how they should be paid equally, but when they actually ran the math, the players were being overpaid and completely subsidized by the parent league. Remember when a reporter asked ronda rousey how she felt that the ufc was finally paying a woman equally? To which she responded something like, “You think I’m being paid more than everyone because I’m a woman and not because I simply generate more revenue than everyone? What kind of question is that?”

Furthermore, Ryan challenges the notion that organizations deliberately underpay female athletes based on their gender. He argues that compensation is primarily determined by revenue generation, asserting that athletes, regardless of gender, are paid based on their ability to draw audiences. In Ryan’s view, individuals who fail to command substantial earnings in the sport cannot attribute their financial struggles to discrimination but rather to their inability to cultivate a compelling brand and attract spectators.

Supply and demand is simple, and it has 0 to do with sex. Women athletes in jiu jitsu get paid less, not because they are women, but because far fewer people want to watch them relative to meat this current time.

Critics of Ryan’s stance argue that his comments overlook systemic barriers and inequalities that female athletes face in sports. They contend that disparities in pay and opportunities are not solely a product of market forces but are also influenced by entrenched biases and institutionalized sexism. Additionally, opponents argue that Ryan’s emphasis on individual responsibility fails to acknowledge broader structural issues that contribute to gender inequities in sports.

Ryan’s remarks also touch upon the importance of athlete branding and marketing in securing lucrative opportunities. He highlights the lack of female athletes who have been able to transcend the confines of jiu-jitsu and build a brand that extends beyond the sport itself. According to Ryan, the ability to generate revenue hinges on an athlete’s capacity to cultivate a strong personal brand and attract sponsors and endorsements.

The best women currently and in the past aren’t as physical and aren’t as technical as men. You can cry all you want, but that statement is a fact. There are also no women who have been able to build a brand that transcends jiu jitsu itself. If you’re not being paid a lot as a woman to compete, it’s not because you’re a woman. It’s because no one cares about you. That, too, is a fact. Do you think organizations are sitting around saying, “Let’s pay her less because she’s a chick?” Really? You are paid contingent on the number of asses you put in seats. It’s not based on medals. It’s not based on sex. It’s based on how much revenue you generate. You’d have to be an îđïôțț to think you’re getting paid because of your skin color or gender in this sport. When you’re a prominent figure in the sport and want to encourage the next generation to make more money, address athletes, not genders. Don’t make it black vs white or male vs female. Cry about this truth, but don’t tell me how to make money in a sport with no money, I’ve done it, and don’t make excuses for not making money in a sport which now has money, thanks to me. There’s enough money for everyone. If you can’t figure out how to make it, blame yourself.
Gordon Ryan’s comments on equal pay for female athletes in jiu-jitsu have sparked intense debate within the BJJ community. While his perspective emphasizes market dynamics and individual branding as key determinants of pay differentials, critics argue that his analysis overlooks systemic gender biases and structural barriers faced by female athletes. As discussions surrounding gender equality in sports continue to evolve, Ryan’s remarks serve as a catalyst for deeper conversations about equity, representation, and opportunity in the world of jiu-jitsu and beyond.