Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Team History, Fighter Stats, Biographies and News

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BJJ Fanatics Instructionals

Nicky Ryan

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Nicky Ryan is a jiu-jitsu black belt under John Danaher and one of the main representatives of the Renzo Gracie Academy – New York, a team also known as the Danaher Death Squad (DDS). Ryan first made waves in the sport when competing as a 13-year-old, a time when he was already winning adult tournaments. His precociousness continued to develop in the professional circuit where Ryan became the youngest athlete (16) to ever compete at the ADCC World Championships, a deed accomplished in 2017. Ryan would go on to beat several big names of the sport before reaching legal adulthood (18), including Geo Martinez, Masakazu Imanari, Uriah Faber, to name a few. Nicky Ryan is also the younger brother of ADCC double gold medalist Gordon Ryan, one of the sport’s most successful athletes.

Nicky Ryan Jiu-Jitsu

Full Name: Nick Ryan

Nickname: Nicky

Lineage: Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Carlos Gracie Jr > Renzo Gracie > John Danaher> Nicky Ryan

Main Achievements:

  • Polaris Invitational 145 lbs Champion (2018, 2019)
  • Youngest Athlete To Ever Compete in the ADCC (2017)
  • 1st Place ADCC US West Coast Trials (2019)
  • 3rd Place ADCC US West Coast Trials (2017)
  • 3rd Place ADCC US East Coast Trials (2016)

Favorite Position/Technique: Open Guard

Weight Division: N/A

Team/Association: Renzo Gracie Academy

Nicky Ryan Biography

Nicky Ryan was born on June 27, 2001, in New Jersey, United States of America.

Influenced by his older brother, Gordon Ryan, Nicky started training jiu-jitsu at a local club when he was 8 years old. His first impressions of this combat sport were not optimal, training on-and-off for a while at a maximum of 2x per week until his interest faded away.

Seeing his brother’s career grow, and having Gordon pushing for him to return on a regular basis finally convinced Nicky to make a comeback, which happened during early 2015. This second turn was very different from his first attempt at grappling, as Nicky started enjoying it and adding more effort into his training. This workload brought his talent to the surface.

The training methodology, which included heel-hooks from his very first month of training, proved fruitful and had Nicky Ryan winning adult tournaments at the age of 13(!), often making clean sweeps out of these events. These incredible achievements at such a young age were echoed in many grappling based internet forums at the time, raising Ryan’s profile.

Although devoted to jiu-jitsu, being in high school conflicted with his training schedule, therefore, in 2016 Nicky Ryan decided to leave the traditional school system. In an interview with the BJJ Brick podcast, on September 19, 2016, Ryan explained he was being homeschooled, with his tuition handled by his jiu-jitsu coach, John Danaher – himself a Columbia University Philosophy major.

In 2016, at the ADCC East Coast Trials, Nicky Ryan made a leap forward in name recognition after placing 3rd in the event – one of the toughest tournaments in the nation. He was 15 years old at the time. Ryan would repeat the podium the following year, at the East Coast trials. These two performances earned the teenager an invitation to the World Championships in Finland, in September 2017. Nicky was 16 years old when he entered the main show, then becoming the youngest athlete to ever compete in this championship, arguably the most important tournament in the sport.

Following coach John Danaher’s program, Nicky earned his purple belt on June 21st, 2017, at the age of 16. A rank seldomly given to athletes in their teens. Nicky was later promoted to brown belt, on October 9, 2019, with his black belt promotion taking place on November 3, 2020, on the same day as his training partner Ethan Crelinsten.


Traditionally BJJ Heroes has only accounted for black belt records as they signify an athlete’s entry into our sport’s elite ranks. Nicky Ryan, however, is a special case as he’s been competing in the pro-grappling circuit since his teenage years. This has left BJJ Heroes with a delicate predicament of defining when to start accounting for the young prodigy’s match records.

Considering the real potential Ryan has of one day conquering the ADCC World Championship, we have decided to add Nicky’s matches, in this event, prior to him being ranked as a black belt for historic purposes. Our readers should keep in mind that Ryan competed in 2017 and 2019 as a teenager, 16 and 18YO respectively.

We have also added every match Nicky Ryan had after his 18th birthday, in the sport’s professional circuit.

Nicky Ryan Grappling Record

    2 (29%)
    0 (0%)
    2 (29%)
    3 (43%)
    0 (0%)
  • BY DQ
    0 (0%)


Inside heel hook
Outside heel hook
    3 (75%)
    0 (0%)
    0 (0%)
    1 (25%)
    0 (0%)
  • BY DQ
    0 (0%)


Nicky Ryan Fight History

ID Opponent W/L Method Competition Weight Stage Year
13913AJ AgazarmAJ AgazarmLPts: 2x0ADCC66KGE12017
21873Paulo MiyaoPaulo MiyaoLPts: 2x0ADCC66KG4F2019
23749Tye RuotoloTye RuotoloLReferee DecisionWNO75KGSPF2020
35017Renato CanutoRenato CanutoLPts: 5x0ADCC77KGR12022
21865Jamil Hill-TaylorJamil Hill-TaylorWPts: 2x0ADCC66KGR12019
23448JZ CavalcanteWInside heel hookSub StarsN/ASPF2020
24077Tony RamosWOutside heel hookWNO 475KGSPF2020
25964PJ BarchPJ BarchWReferee DecisionWNO 883KGSPF2021
26298Gabriel AlmeidaGabriel AlmeidaWReferee DecisionWNO 983KGSPF2021
26919Dante LeonDante LeonWPts: 5x0Road to ADCC77KGSPF2021
41986Rene SousaWReferee DecisionWNO 1977KGSPF2023
42501Santeri LiliusSanteri LiliusD---Quintet 4ABSNA2023
John Danaher BJJ Escapes


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