‘He couldn’t do anything’ – Nick Rodriguez recaps recent match with Gordon Ryan

Nick Rodriguez recently spoke about his narrow defeat to Gordon Ryan at the UFC Fight Pass Invitational 3.

In December 2022 at the UFC Fight Pass Invitational 3, Nick Rodriguez lost to former Danaher Death Squad teammate Gordon Ryan by way of ride time in the overtime portion of their 20-minute EBI-rules match.

Read a full recap of that match here.

For many fans, the contest was surprisingly close, considering that just months prior, at the 2022 ADCC World Championships, Ryan submitted Rodriguez in a relatively dominant fashion.

Widely regarded as the planet’s top pound-for-pound no-gi grappler, Ryan hasn’t lost in competition since 2018.

Their December showdown, though, was much different. Throughout much of the regulation period, Ryan attacked from his open guard while Rodriguez looked for his trademark body lock pass. The most meaningful moment came when Rodriguez audibly popped Ryan’s foot in a toehold, prompting Ryan – one of the world’s most feared leg lockers – to kick out of the position.

The overtime periods were competitive, but Ryan showed excellent back control and escaping technique to secure the ride-time victory.

On a recent episode of The Simple Man Podcast, Rodriguez spoke about the loss. Watch the full episode below.

“The biggest takeaway was that in ADCC I lost to a leg entanglement and now, a few weeks later, I won a leg entanglement, that’s the biggest takeaway. Besides that, he couldn’t do shit, he couldn’t sweep me, he couldn’t get on top, couldn’t do anything. He really just laid on his back, tried to grab grips, and couldn’t do much.”

According to Rodriguez, he was making progress on achieving the pass.

“I was able to lock my hands in a body lock once or twice, which he was able to defend well… I got my hands locked twice in the match, and I could feel each time I got my hands locked he’s just a little bit softer. My personal opinion, the third or fourth time I got my hands locked around him, I believe I would have passed. 

“I think he was just getting really frustrated on bottom. He wasn’t able to engage or use his grips to his advantage. Usually from bottom he just moves guys around, start dragging them and whatnot and come on top, and he just wasn’t able to do that this time.”

Indeed, Ryan struggled to mount offense from his vaunted guard. After the match, he took to social media to accuse Rodriguez of greasing.

A two-time ADCC silver medalist, Rodriguez is known for his high-end wrestling and top game. Until his most recent encounter with Ryan, leg locks were thought to be one of his weaknesses. Rodriguez recalls applying the toehold on Ryan:

“When I’m getting the toehold, I hear it cracking and I’m like ‘Oh, I got this.’ So I go a little bit harder, crack it some more, and he kicks out. And I’m just thinking, like ‘fuck, if I had good mechanics, I would have took this foot home with me.’…

“I have like 6 out of 10 mechanics and I was still able to break the foot. So I’ll go back, refine some stuff.”

While he’s disappointed in the defeat, Rodriguez is ultimately pleased with his performance, given his relative lack of experience in jiu-jitsu training:

“So [Ryan has] about three times the amount of jiu-jitsu training that I have. With one third of the training, I was able to put it on this guy, broke his foot, get a rear-naked choke locked up, and he wasn’t able to engage me at all…

“I think people see that he’s human now, and he knows I’m coming.”

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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