Some refer to Nicky Ryan as Jiu-Jitsu king Gordon Ryan’s little brother, but he is way more than that. He is a BJJ blackbelt under John Danaher and one of the most elite No-Gi competitors to date. He is a Jiu-Jitsu prodigy that has been making waves ever since he was a teenager.
Before he could even drive, Nicky Ryan was handily beating the world’s best grapplers. He is a Jiu-Jitsu prodigy that has been taking the BJJ world by storm since his early teens! Nicky has carved a path all his own and his story is a unique one.
Let’s take a look into how Nicky Ryan became one of the best grapplers in the world. Detailing how he got started in Jiu-Jitsu and detail how he became one of the world’s best competitive BJJ players.
Nicky's Beginning in Jiu Jitsu
Nicky Ryan began learning Jiu-Jitsu at eight years old after his brother began getting success in tournaments. Although at first, Nicky didn’t take a liking to Jiu-Jitsu, only passively training a few times a week. As he wasn’t dedicated to the training, eventually Nicky lost all interest altogether and stopped training for a few years.
It wasn’t until Ryan was about to enter his teens that he returned to training Jiu-Jitsu. This was when his brother Gordon and the Danaher Death Squad started to take over the Jiu-Jitsu world.
After being convinced by Gordon to give Jiu-Jitsu another try, Nicky came back to training. But this time he would be training with Gordon in the blue basement with John Danaher. That’s when Nicky’s game truly started to develop.
When Nicky started training again it was a night and day difference from when he started. He began enjoying the training with his brother under Danaher.
He would be at the academy every day training with the world’s best grapplers. Along with his newfound dedication, Nicky quickly picked up the DDS leg lock system.
Knowing leg locks and training with high-level adults increased Ryan’s game tremendously. He began entering tournaments in adult divisions and would clean out every division he entered at just 13 years old!
Nicky Dedicates His Life To BJJ
Ryan became extremely passionate about learning and competing in Jiu-Jitsu. So much so point where his parents pulled him from regular public school and began homeschooling him.
This was to help dedicate more of his time to becoming a top Jiu-Jitsu athlete. Danaher also covered his tuition and since John was a Ph.D. in philosophy it was like Nicky wasn’t being educated.
With the support of his family and coach, Nicky was ready to make his mark in Jiu-Jitsu.
Nicky's ADCC Appearances
When Nicky was just a 15-year-old blue belt, he began becoming a force in the competition scene. In 2016, he placed 3rd at the ADCC East Coast Trials in a bracket filled with previous ADCC competitors.
The next year, he would compete at the same tournament and would again place high in his division. His performances in those tournaments caught the eye of the ADCC heads, earning Ryan an invitation to the 2017 championship in Finland. This made him the youngest competitor to ever compete at the ADCC championships.
At the championship, Nicky would face former BJJ champion AJ Agarzam. Losing the match by only 2-0, but gaining even more respect from the BJJ community. Not bad for young teens!
Nicky's Pro Jiu Jitsu Career
After his performance at ADCC, Nicky would begin getting numerous opportunities to fight on pro grappling shows. One of the first would be on the pro grappling show Polaris against MMA fighter and grappler Phil Harris. Beating Harris by armbar within the time limit.
Ryan would then fight in Kazushi Sakuraba’s BJJ Team competition called Quintet. Beating veteran MMA fighter Hideo Tokoro by RNC a few months after his match at Polaris.
Then Ryan would go back to Polaris and compete in a high-profile match against leg lock master Masakazu Imanari. Finishing the match by RNC moving his Polaris record to 2-0.
Nicky's Return to ADCC
In 2019, when Nicky was close to 18, he would have his 3rd shot at competing at the ADCC. This time, Nicky would win the ADCC trials finishing all 3 of his opponents including fellow teen phenom Kade Ruotolo. Punching his ticket to the 2019 ADCC championships.
In between the trials and the championship, Nicky would compete on Polaris 10. This time against MMA legend Urijah Faber and would win the match by decision.
Then at the ADCC championships, Ryan would go 1-1 in the tournament. Beating Jamil Hill-Taylor in the first round and losing 2-0 against Paulo Miyao in his 2nd match.
Since his 2nd appearance at ADCC, Ryan has gone 3-1 in his pro grappling matches. Now that he is 20 years old, he is growing out of his teen body and getting much stronger.
At only 20 years old, Ryan has already racked up an impressive competitive career and is only getting started. With many years left in his career don’t be surprised to see Nicky add numerous championships to his resume!