Three ways Tony Ramos can beat Nicky Ryan.

This weekend, Oct 2nd on FloGrappling’s WNO event, NCAA champion Tony Ramos takes on Donaher Death Squad member Nicky Ryan. It’s a match that garnered questions from the moment it was announced. Like, why is WNO matching up a wrestler in a sub only Jiu Jitsu match? 

While most believe this will be an easy win for Ryan (given the ruleset), there are still ways that Ramos can win. These are long shots but I believe if Ramos does come out with the victory, it will be one of the following:

Judge’s Decision

Every Jiu Jitsu match, regardless of the ruleset, ends if there is a submission during regulation.  Submissions are always king. But the match goes to a judge’s decision if there are no submissions in “sub only”. The judges are advised to rule in favor of whoever had the most near finishes. But, if there are no attempts that were relatively close to a finish, then the next criteria is dominant position. This is where Ramos can shine.

Wrestlers are tenacious and grind out a victories. Ramos can win if he can take Ryan down, pass guard, get mount or take the back and stay out of submissions. Although, Ryan isn’t just a submission artist. He has a strong guard that Ramos will have to crack. We saw Tye Ruotolo pass his guard a few months ago that ultimately led to him beating Ryan. Ramos’ best chance of winning is by taking a page out of Ruotolo’s book. Take a look at the breakdown I did on how Ruotolo did that here.

Front Choke

Matt Hughes chokes Ricardo Almeida.
Matt Hughes chokes Ricardo Almeida.

Wrestlers adopt the front choke very well. They make a living at grabbing the head and controlling the chin. Using that to choke is an easy transition. I imagine that Ryan won’t stay on his feet against Ramos. Why would he? Ramos is a D-1 national champ. That is the one place Ryan has the disadvantage.

I’m guessing Ryan will sit to his butt and scoot toward Ramos. But in order to get a sweep or even into a leg entanglement he could expose his neck. Because of this, it is plausible we see Ramos finish by choke.

Submission From The Back

Mason Fowler submits Craig Jones from the back.
Mason Fowler submits Craig Jones from the back.

Another way for Ramos to win is if he can take Ryan’s back. This will give him an opportunity to finish with a rear naked choke or a neck crank like Mason Fowler used against Craig Jones. Wrestlers fight to take the back everyday in practice. Ramos has to be good at it.

That is, if he can pass the guard of Ryan. But maybe Ramos can use a cartwheel pass or a smash pass like Ruotolo used. The DDS guys are strong with the finish from the back and I’m sure Ryan has developed phenomenal defense from there. But there is a chance with the back take by Ramos, however slim it may be.


Ramos is the underdog. He is competing in an unfamiliar artform, while Ryan is where he feels best. Ramos has to stop the submissions of one of the best in the sport.

But if there is one thing I’ve learned about collegiate wrestlers over the years, it is to never count them out. They are used to the bright lights and the pressure. Their work ethic and tenacity are hard to beat. Can Ramos beat Ryan in a sub only Jiu Jitsu match? This weekend we’ll find out.

Josh Clopton

Josh Clopton is a UFC veteran and Jiu Jitsu black belt. In 2005 he left his job in Tulsa, Okla. and moved to San Francisco to pursue fighting. While trying to break into the UFC, he worked on a commercial crab fishing boat to make ends meet. Josh earned his black belt under Jake Shields in 2016 and now helps train other fighters and has been the chief cornerman in over 20 UFC fights. He teaches at El Nino Training Center and also for companies such as Google, YouTube and LinkedIn. He is an avid reader, writer and outdoorsman.

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