In late 2017, Gordon Ryan was fresh off his first ADCC gold medal and only just beginning his journey to becoming the most dominant and well-known no-gi grappler in the world. He was 22-years old, and despite already owning plenty of accomplishments between the ADCC championship and a pair of EBI championships, Ryan wasn’t yet considered the pound-for-pound unstoppable force that he is today. In November 2017, he faced Ralek Gracie in a no time limit, submission-only match.
Watch mat-side video of that match below.
What we see in this match is a young competitor displaying the patience and understanding of control well beyond his years. Although at the time Ryan was considered a leg lock specialist, he showed against Gracie that his game was much more well-rounded — traditional, even. We see Gordon Ryan using basic side-to-side guard passing and expertly-held positional control from top position to gradually wear down his opponent and limit his paths of escape before ultimately securing a reverse triangle finish.
In short, the Gordon Ryan of 2017 was already relying on the same skills that are the trademark of his game today.
Ryan has competed twice so far in 2021 with dominant submission wins over Roberto Jimenez and Vagner Rocha. He is currently scheduled to face no-gi super heavyweight world champion Luiz Panza on May 28.