John Danaher has been trying to talk Gordon Ryan, perhaps the greatest no-gi submission grappler in the history of the sport, out of transitioning to MMA. Gordon Ryan, who has accomplishments in both the IBJJF no-gi Worlds and ADCC championships, had hinted that he would transition to MMA after he had accomplished his goals in submission grappling.
With seemingly little left to accomplish (apart from perhaps the ADCC superfight) and his teammate Garry Tonon having a successful start to his MMA career, it would seem that MMA would be his next logical step. However, in a recent interview with Ben Askren, John Danaher highlighted the reason why he has been trying to talk Gordon Ryan out of his decision.
During the interview, Danaher explained that submission grappling is in a similar situation as wrestling was over a decade over. Athletes at the top of the sport — including some ADCC champions— do not earn enough money to even cover the medical cost of injuries that they incur throughout their careers. Askren corroborated with his own experience, explaining that at the height of his wrestling success as an Olympian, he was only making 30 thousand dollars a year.
According to Danaher, “…grappling is at a pivotal point in its history. There is a chance that submission grappling could expand to a remarkable degree over the next 10 years”. What the sport needed, he reasoned, were superstars, athletes who could bring the sport to a new level, both in popularity and economic potential, “It’s individuals who start revolutions”. Seemingly, a star like Gordon Ryan would be the one to lead the vanguard. With increased popularity, financial success would also follow success in BJJ.
The idea of Gordon Ryan competing in MMA is intriguing, because he, along with Garry Tonon, represents the new wave of submission-oriented grapplers. During the interview, Danaher and Askren discussed how position-oriented grapplers (such as those more experienced in IBJJF competition), were more likely to encounter roadblocks in MMA. On the other hand, submission-oriented grapplers presented more challenges to fighters as they always had the submission up their sleeves.
For those fans who are still hopeful of a Gordon Ryan MMA debut, don’t lose hope. Although John is trying his best to convince Gordon to stay in grappling, he explained that they still have frequent back-and-forth discussions on the topic. Perhaps when Gordon decides there is nothing left to accomplish in submission grappling, he will take on the challenges of MMA.
Watch the interview below: