Nick Rodriguez: ‘Animosity in the room’ led to Danaher Death Squad split

Now months after it happened, fans are still curious about why the famed Danaher Death Squad chose to split up. In a recent appearance on the “Get Close” podcast, former DDS member and ADCC silver medalist Nick Rodriguez gave some context behind the team’s dissolution.

Last year, shortly after head coach John Danaher announced the squad’s split, former DDS members Craig Jones, Ethan Crelinsten, Nicky Ryan, and Nick Rodriguez announced the formation of The B-Team in Austin, TX. Around that same time, former DDS member and multiple-time ADCC champion Gordon Ryan announced that he would also be moving to Austin, but he’d be training under Danaher and alongside Garry Tonon.

According to Rodriguez, “animosity” among the team led to the split.

First, it’s worth noting that Rodriguez is nothing but complimentary of his former coach Danaher.

“John changed my game. He’s super knowledgeable. He’s the best jiu-jitsu coach there is,” Rodriguez said.

When asked directly about the DDS split Rodriguez hinted at a clash of personalities creating tension in the room.

We parted ways, it was a few factors. Once COVID hit we moved to Puerto Rico. The team wasn’t really getting along too well in Puerto Rico just because we had some inner issues and stuff. It was honestly a lot healthier for us to split off and do our own thing. So we came here to Austin, we set up B-Team jiu-jitsu in Austin, training out there now. John still has a couple guys that he trains with in Austin but on a separate side of town. Honestly, Austin is the capitol for jiu-jitsu in the US. It’s gotta be. It’s got multiple schools, really high level guys everywhere you go. We separated because it’s definitely more beneficial to go our separate ways. We were just having a little bit of animosity in the room and it was taking away from our ability to learn…

You have too many lions in one den, it can get rough… Yeah. That’s all I’ll say.

To address the 240-pound elephant/grappler in the room: Rodriguez seems to be insinuating that there was conflict between Gordon Ryan and other members of the squad, and those conflicts ultimately caused the split we see today.

Both Ryan and Rodriguez are slated to competed in the heavyweight division at the 2022 ADCC World Championships later this year.

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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