Nicky Ryan: BJJ Athlete & B-Team Co-Founder
published on February 6, 2023
curated and posted by BRWLRZ Team

Nicky Ryan Nicky Ryan

Nicky Ryan has been one of the most watched young talents in BJJ over the last few years. Since his teens, Ryan has been beating world champions in the world of pro grappling.

  • Name: Nick Ryan
  • DOB: June 27th, 2001
  • Nickname: Nicky
  • Academy: B-Team Jiu Jitsu
  • Affiliation: B-Team Jiu Jitsu
  • Championships: 2x Polaris 145 lb Invitational Champion, Youngest ADCC Competitor of All-Time(16)

Here is everything you need to know about Nicky Ryan and how he became a high level Jiu Jitsu athlete. Going over his team learning under John Danaher to setting out on his own and co-founding B-Team Jiu Jitsu.

Nicky Ryan’s Entry Into Jiu Jitsu

Nicky Ryan grew up in New Jersey and would enter into Jiu Jitsu after being influenced by his brother, Gordon Ryan. This was before Gordon was considered the best Jiu Jitsu athlete in the world.

At the time, Nick was eight years old and didn’t have a vested interest in Jiu Jitsu. He would train for a brief time on and off and then quit after his first try in the martial art.

His interest would return years later, when his brother Gordon started getting attention for his abilities. Nicky would resume training with his brother and be coached by John Danaher.

Under the wing of Danaher, Ryan would discover a new found passion for Jiu Jitsu.

Nicky Ryan’s Early Success in Competition

Training under a high level coaching at Renzo Gracie’s Academy, would allow Ryan to develop rapidly almost overnight. Training with Gordon, Garry Tonon, and the numerous those world champions at Renzo’s world turn Nicky into a prodigy.

At just thirteen, Nicky Ryan would begin entering into adult categories and beating grown men. Not only grown men, but grown men that had been practicing Jiu Jitsu for years.

What also helped Ryan develop his skill was the support of his parents. To dedicate his time to training, Nicky Ryan would move to homeschooling at fifteen.

John Danaher would also give Nicky a training scholarship, where he could train everyday with the team. This would allow Nicky Ryan to completely immerse himself in Jiu Jitsu and become the best athlete possible.

Nicky Ryan’s Pro Grappling Career 

Nicky Ryan is only in his early twenties, but is a veteran of the pro grappling scene. Here are some of the highlights of his young career so far.

Youngest ADCC Athlete

When Nicky was fifteen, there started to be a lot of buzz around him. He was beating adults at BJJ competition and was encouraged to test himself.

When Nicky was fifteen, he competed at the ADCC East Coast Trials in 2016. He would end up placing third in a category filled with high level BJJ athletes.

In the next year, Ryan would medal again with another impressive performance. This performance would get the attention of the head ADCC organizer, who invited Nicky into the tournament.

At sixteen years old, Nicky Ryan was the youngest grappler to ever compete at the tournament. He would have a tough match against AJ Agarzam that he would lose 2-0, but was given a lot of respect.

Ryan would earn two other invites to the ADCC tournament in 2019 and again in 2022.

Polaris 2018/2019 145 lb Champion 

When Nicky was seventeen, he would compete at Polaris 7 in their featherweight championship tournament. He would have a dominant performance against grapplers double his age. 

One of the most notable wins at this tournament was a submission win over former UFC vet Phil Harris. Ryan would repeat as champion again at the next championship tournament in 2019 before he turned eighteen.

Other High Profile Wins

During his young career, Nicky has had some high profile wins. One of the first big names he faced was leglock master Masakazu Imanari. Ryan would control Imanari throughout their match and submit him by rear naked choke.

At Kasai 2, Nicky would face 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu ace, Geo Martinez. The two would go back and forth with submission attempts, until their match went to overtime. Nicky would earn a win by being the more aggressive of the two competitors. 

Then at Polaris 10, Nicky would face former UFC vet Uriah Faber and earn a decision win over the famed fighter.

Nicky Co-Founding B-Team Jiu Jitsu

Ryan has been part of multiple top stories in the Jiu Jitsu community, which led to the formation of the B-Team. Here are the events that led up to Ryan co-founding this Jiu Jitsu school.

DDS Moves To Puerto Rico

During the Pandemic, the Jiu Jitsu world was buzzing at the news around team DDS. Danaher’s crew decided they were leaving Renzo Gracie’s blue basement to start their own academy.

Their vision was creating a super academy where the best grapplers in the world would train. They figured they could get them to come by putting the school in the setting of a tropical paradise.

This is what made DDS decide on putting their school in Puerto Rico, BJJ athletes would train all day and rest on the beach in between training sessions.

Family Tragedy and Breakup of DDS

Unfortunately, the DDS gym in Puerto Rico didn’t go as planned. There were many logistical issues due to Covid-19, which prevented many grapplers from making a trip to the island.

Also since Puerto Rico is an impoverished country, the team basically had to seclude themselves in their small suburb. Also right after the move, Gordon and Nicky would get some devastating news.

Their beloved father Gordon “Big Gord” Ryan Sr passed away in late 2020. Then following the news of their father’s death, DDS would start to unravel.

In 2021, Gordon would announce on Instagram that he was moving to Austin, Tx to open a new school with Danaher. John Danaher would also announce the breakup of the mighty Danaher Death Squad.

Both sides of the breakup have been professional since they parted ways. Athletes on each side of the breakup stated that DDS members had philosophical differences for their training. Leading to the groups to go their separate ways.

The Formation of the B-Team 

A surprising twist to the DDS breakup was the factions that would form. On one side, there was Gordon Ryan, Garry Tonon, and John Danaher.

Then on the other side you had Craig Jones, Ethan Crelensten, Nick Rodriguez, and Nicky Ryan. Nicky being on the opposing side of his brother left many within Jiu Jitsu surprised.

This second group would decide to also open their own Jiu Jitsu school in Austin, TX. They would dub their school B-Team Jiu JItsu.

The name being a bit of a joke between the co-founders since they were considered the B team of DDS.

Since forming, the B-Team has grown exponentially. Everyday, their mats are full of grapplers that want to train alongside them and are competing in high level competitions.

All of the core members competed at ADCC, and two of the four co-founders medaled at the tournament.

Nicky Ryan’s Injury Problems 

One thing that has unfortunately been part of Nicky’s journey as of late is being hit with the injury bug. Specifically to his knees that have been taking a pounding for years.

Before DDS broke up, Nicky suffered a torn meniscus. He would then tear his meniscus again before ADCC and then confirm that he also tore his ACL.

These injuries have halted Nicky’s competitive career and he’s on the path to get back to competing.

Nicky Ryan’s Grappling Game 

Nicky Ryan has a relatively complete grappling game, where he’s good from every position. In his early days, he was known for what many DDS members were known for.

That was having a high level leg lock game, good guard, and the ability to take his opponent’s backs. Since branching out on his own, Nicky had developed a new part of his game which he calls wrestling up.

This is where you fight off your back to make space and wrestle up to take your opponent down. These techniques will play a big part in Ryan’s success going forward.

What’s Next For Nicky Ryan?

Nicky Ryan has accomplished more in grappling before the age of twenty, than what many athletes have done in their careers. He’s been beating black belts since he was thirteen and will continue getting more big wins in the future.

Right now, Nicky is on a quest to come back from injury and be better than ever. If he’s able to stay healthy, we could very well see him become a champion again.


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