Blue Belt ADCC Qualifier Nick Rodriguez Is Ready To Test His Skills On The F2W Stage

Image Source: Kitt Canaria for Jiu-Jitsu Times

Late last year, Nick Rodriguez had just six months of jiu-jitsu experience under his (white) belt when he shocked the BJJ world by winning third place at the ADCC East Coast Trials. Not satisfied with bronze, Rodriguez tried to qualify again for the prestigious event (this time at the West Coast Trials) a few months later as a blue belt. And this time, he succeeded.

Rodriguez is just getting started in his jiu-jitsu career, but he’s already established himself as an exception to the rule. White belts “shouldn’t” be able to come close to winning the ADCC Trials, and blue belts certainly “shouldn’t” be able to earn their place in an event that is reserved for only the most elite jiu-jitsu athletes in the world.

Similarly, the Fight 2 Win stage is normally only for athletes who are purple belts or above (although the promotion has made a few exceptions in the past). Here again, though, Rodriguez is an asterisk. Tonight at F2W 107 in New England, he’ll be making his debut against Tyler King: a new black belt and Bellator veteran with a 3-0 F2W record and a brown belt World Championship title to his name.

Despite the massive gap in rank and experience levels, Rodriguez is still confident in his ability to win his debut. “The F2W rule set is perfect for me,” he says. “I’m an aggressive technician, and F2W rules encourage my style. My opponent doesn’t stand a chance.”

Rodriguez’s accomplishments haven’t come without controversy. Many have downplayed his achievements by referencing his wrestling experience, and while Rodriguez acknowledges that his wrestling has certainly played a part in his success in the BJJ world, he says that he had to “rewire his brain” to think like a grappler instead of a wrestler. “I don’t blame people for being upset. I’ve accomplished something people work a lifetime for, within nine months of training. Wrestling has definitely helped advance my jiu-jitsu skill set when competing, but in practice, speed and aggression can’t compete with knowledge. Jiu-jitsu requires a different mentality in practice as well as competition… Expanding my thought process while gaining vital knowledge of jiu-jitsu techniques is how I continue to be successful in this sport.”

Rodriguez may come across as a bit cocky, but he’s not without self-awareness, either. He acknowledges that for as far as he’s come in such a short amount of time, he still has weaknesses in his game that he needs to work on. “My greatest struggle in jiu-jitsu is leg locks. I’ve consistently found leg locks a longer and more in-depth learning process than most other techniques,” he says.

Once F2W 107 is over, Rodriguez won’t have long to relax — the very next week at F2W 108 in Philadelphia, he’ll be competing for the no-gi purple belt super heavyweight title against Walker Madden. From there, it likely won’t be long until we see him competing for other promotions, too. He says that in addition to F2W, he’s also been approached by Kasai, Polaris, and “a few other promotions.” Nothing has been finalized yet, though. “It’s proving difficult to find an opponent for me,” he says. “Many competitors of higher ranking don’t want to be submitted by a blue belt.”

Rodriguez isn’t worried about all that for now, though, saying that he only focuses on the task at hand. He eyes F2W 107 calmly, self-assured that his skills will lead him to one victory at a time. “I never feel any pressure to compete because my practices are always way harder than my matches. I train with the best grapplers, wrestlers, and coaches in this country. Competing is fun to me — it’s when I’m able to unleash NickyRod and showcase my godlike talents. There is no competition for me; I’m on a different planet.” Then, with a laugh, “Sorry, the douche came out in those last few sentences.”

Watch Rodriguez vs. King, plus many other exciting matches when F2W 107 streams live tonight on FloGrappling.


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