Gordon “The King” Ryan – BJJ No Gi Grappling’s Best American Athlete

Gordon “The King” Ryan – BJJ No Gi Grappling’s Best American Athlete

Having the nickname “The King” holds a lot of weight. It means that you are one of the best at what you do. Gordon King Ryan has done more than enough to earn that nickname.

He is a multi time world champion and currently the reigning ADCC champ in 2 divisions.  

Without a doubt he is the best American grappler and arguably the best in the world right now. Ryan is one of the most active and most successful grapplers out there. And the scary part is he’s only 24!  

Accomplishing what he has accomplished in such a short time that young already makes him an all time great. Gordon got to where he is through tireless hard work. Let’s take a look and breakdown Jiu Jitsu Gordon Ryan’s journey and how he came to be BJJ No Gi’s best grapplers to date.

Gordon King Ryan's Starts His BJJ Journey


Gordon King Ryan grew up in Monroe Township, New Jersey. He took up Jiu Jitsu when he was 15 years old starting under Miguel Benitez for a short time.  

He really got started on his journey in Jiu Jitsu when he switched over to Ocean County Jiu Jitsu. Training under Tom deBlass is when Ryan showed he had the potential to be very good at grappling.  

There he met his best friend and training partner Garry Tonon a few months after joining deBlass’ academy. Garry at the time was already a brown belt and a fast-rising star in the grappling circuit.  

Tonon began teaching advanced classes at the academy and Ryan would be at every class learning from Garry.  

Gordon Ryan Meets John Danaher

Since deBlass was a Renzo Gracie black belt this meant his school was an affiliate school. So, his students could travel to New York and train at Renzo’s school if they wanted.  

Tonon would routinely make trips there to train and Ryan began coming with him after he received his purple belt. The person they would go to specifically train under was none other than John Danaher.  

Danaher was known for being one of the best minds in Jiu Jitsu. Having trained with the best grapplers in the world and coached multiple UFC champions.  

Danaher saw that Garry and Gordon had something special in them and took both under his wing. Sharing his Jiu Jitsu knowledge with them along with his infamous leg lock system.  

After just a short time training under Danaher it elevated Ryan’s game to another level. He would take third place at the National No Gi Pan Ams Championship. Not being satisfied with 3rd, he took it as motivation and vowed not to lose next time. 

Gordon King Ryan Gets Promoted to Black Belts and Receives His First World Title

After the No Gi Pan Ams championship, Gordon received his brown belt. He stayed busy competing in various tournaments.  

ryan gordon bjj

After putting in work winning numerous matches, he qualified for the IBJJF No Gi Championship in 2015. Ryan would go on to win his first world championship at 20 years old!  

That world championship win capped off an amazon 6 month run where he competed and won multiple tournaments.  

After his impressive run, his friend and coach Garry Tonon, only 6 months at Brown Belt, presented Gordon with his black belt – a promotion that was supported by Tom deBlass and John Danaher, who were both present during the promotion. 

Gordon's King Ryan EBI Debut and World Introduction

Ryan continued his winning ways after his world championship win competing and winning multiple tournaments.   

His teammate Garry was also tearing up the grappling scene. After his great performance at ADCC 2013, Tonon was super active doing tournaments and super fights.   

Garry got more shine taking out the competition and winning multiple titles at the Eddie Bravo Invitational events. Even though he won, he was telling people they hadn’t seen anything until Gordon Ryan competes.  

Jiu Jitsu Gordon Ryan made his EBI debut in 2016 in the absolute division against 4 of the best grapplers in the world. Including world champion Yuri Simoes.  

Ryan Gordon Bjj decimated the competition winning all four fights by submission. His performance put the grappling world on notice that the Danaher Death Squad was taking over.  

5 months after winning his first EBI, Gordon would come back 5 months later for EBI 8. At the 185lb tournament, he would submit all 4 of his opponents again.   

These performances put Gordon on the map and one of the best grapplers on the planet. 

ADCC 2017

After his amazing performances at the EBI tournaments, Gordon then qualified for the ADCC. The world’s biggest No Gi grappling championship that is held every two years. 

ryan gordon bjj

He would face some really stiff competition in the 88kg division, but would come out on top. Defeating Keenan Cornelius in the finals with a guillotine choke clinching his first ADCC title. 

With that win, he got a spot in the absolute division. There he would have another dominant performance including beating former absolute winner Cyborg Abreu by heel hook.  

He would unfortunately come up short in the finals against Felipe Pena. But his statement was made and he showed that he was going to be a champion for a really long time. 

ADCC 2019

After another successful year of grappling in 2018, Gordon was back at ADCC 2019. He was going to attempt to get double gold again at this event.  

This time he wouldn’t be denied. He took gold in the 99kg class and then took the absolute division that evaded him last time. Beat multi time world champion Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida.  

At only 24 years, Jiu Jitsu Gordon Ryan cemented his name as one of the greatest ADCC competitors ever. 

Is Gordon King Ryan The Best BJJ No GI Grappler Ever?

Now at only 25 years it is very hard not to put Gordon Ryan bjj up with the best grapplers of all time. At such a young age almost no one has done what he has.  

Ryan already owns 6 world titles and won 4 EBI tournaments. If he isn’t the best now, when it is all said and done he probably will be. He’s also plowed through the ADCC competition with ease, earning him a double gold championship in his last run.  

Jiu Jitsu Gordon Ryan has many years of grappling ahead of him if he wishes to compete more in the future. If he does decide to compete for years to come, he may put up numbers that may never be broken. That is how great Gordon Ryan is and why he is considered by many as the best in the world!