Hail to the King: A Jiu-Jitsu Times EXCLUSIVE Interview with Gordon Ryan

Photo by: Blanca Marisa Garcia

“My favorite milkshake flavor is the flavor of my haters’ tears”-Gordon Ryan

If you don’t know who Gordon Ryan is, you probably stumbled upon this site by accident.  One of the most sought after and talked about names in jiu-jitsu, Gordon Ryan has achieved top-dog status in the game by beating a who’s who list of challengers.

If you are in the upper echelons of the sport he’s coming for you, man. His style is impetuous. His defense is impregnable, and he’s just ferocious. He wants your heart.He wants to eat his children.

oliver taza

I had an opportunity to sit down with Gordon and talk about some of his thoughts on the modern competition scene.  There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the young King Gordon, who has a literal crown that he wears at tournaments.

For starters, I wanted to learn a bit about Gordon’s payment requirements.  He has become fairly notorious for demanding that his opponents put up tens of thousands of dollars as a wager when facing off against him.  Some potential challengers have balked, saying that it is simply against the spirit of being a professional athlete to require that your competition put up funds, so I asked Gordon the pointed question: does it matter where the money comes from?  Can the money be provided by the event in which he competes, by sponsors, or do opponents have to personally come up with the funds?

“I don’t care where the money comes from,” he responded. “All I care is that I get paid when I beat them.”

However, you won’t see Gordon competing in a gi anytime soon.

As of now, no. I won’t compete in the gi until after MMA. IBJJF I will compete in. I’ll win no-gi Pans and no-gi World’s once at black belt.

An interesting point of contention: Gordon Ryan has only been training jiu-jitsu for a few years.  The time between brown and black for him was less than the IBJJF’s stringent requirements to be considered a competition-eligible black belt.  I was interested to learn a bit about Gordon’s thoughts on these rules.

gordon ryan

Oliver Taza got his brown belt in two years of training and when he tried to register for brown belt they penalized him and made him wait even longer. You need to have your brown belt for at least a year under IBJJF rules and I only had mine for six months.  I can register now, though.  I think if someone is promoted too quickly by an instructor and they pay for it in competition, then that’s on their instructor. By the time I was eligible to register as a black belt, I had already submitted multiple gi and no-gi black belt World champions.  So I think it’s silly.  If I could change some rules in the IBJJF, I would allow all submissions both gi and no-gi from purple belt up. I would also make white belt matches six minutes, blue belt matches seven minutes, purple belt matches eight minutes, brown belt matches 10 minutes, and black belt matches 15 minutes. I prefer longer matches for black belts, but with a tournament this size, longer than 15 minutes isn’t realistic. There are so many matches in a day!

Gordon has embraced the role of heel in the jiu-jitsu community, often trolling his opponents online and calling out any desirable opponent.  However, his competition conduct and etiquette are beyond reproach.

How is it that Gordon reconciles these two seemingly contradictory aspects of his behavior?

Photo by: Blanca Marisa Garcia | EBI 6
Photo by: Blanca Marisa Garcia | EBI 6

I think you can toe the line between talking trash and being respectful. There’s a difference between marketing yourself and being an asshole. For example, if someone attacks me online, I’ll tell them I’ll hold them down and hump their face. But when you meet me in public and are respectful, I’m always very nice, always smiling, and I always make time for fans. No matter how many people want to take pictures or ask questions, I always make time. After Polaris, Garry [Tonon] and I spent over an hour taking pictures. Also if you haven’t noticed, I talk a lot of shit before my matches (which I do believe I’m better than anyone in the world under a no-gi sub-only format), but after my matches, I always shake hands and thank my opponents.  After the match, I don’t publicly talk shit about them anymore.

Speaking of embracing the role of heel, I wanted to know more about potential match-ups for one of Gordon’s friends, Tom DeBlass.  I was curious who Gordon thought would win, and by what method, in a match between DeBlass and famed Sumo wrestler Yokozuna.

The answer was grim for DeBlass.

Yokozuna by smother tap.

As for Gordon, his desired match-ups for the future are Rafa Mendes, Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida, Rodolfo Vieira, Erberth Santos, and Davi Ramos.

Gordon’s closing thoughts for the loyal readers of Jiu-Jitsu Times are simple:

If you compete at the highest levels of this sport without the gi, there’s nowhere you can hide. The KING is coming.

Gordon’s next scheduled superfight is against Felipe “Preguica” Pena, which will be live-streamed at www.flograppling.com 

His shout-outs go to Musclepharm, Phalanx, Studio 540, The Arm Bar Soap Company, Fighterplus, and Kimera Koffee.


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