Keenan Cornelius recently appeared on an episode of El Segundo podcast with Craig Jones and the topic of conversation eventually turned to his no time-limit match with Gordon Ryan back in 2016. Ryan is actually an opponent that both Cornelius and Jones have faced at multiple points over the course of their careers, although this match was the first time that either of them had met him on the mats. Cornelius explained how the match actually came about:
“So Gordon (Ryan) was like this skinny kid from New Jersey and he was talking a bunch of sh*t to Andre (Galvao), as like an internet troll. Like he didn’t really have a following or a fanbase back then, and noone wanted to fight him. He was like trying to challenge people to get fights, and I saw the kid had spunk you know? I was like ‘I’ll fight the guy! He looks like a tough kid, I’ll fight him.'”
Gordon Ryan and Keenan Cornelius were in different points of their career back in 2016, so it was a surprise when Grappling Industries managed to bring the match came to fruition. Ryan had only been a black belt for just a few months, whereas Cornelius had won an IBJJF No Gi World Championship and had reached the podium of ADCC as well. Cornelius also gave a little bit of insight into the negotiations that took place between the two men as well:
“The mistake I made was like just thinking it was gonna be a normal fight but the negotiations just got really intense. About the weight cut, how much weight I had to cut. It’s hard to imagine but I actually had to cut like 15lbs to fight Gordon the first time… He actually was 15lbs lighter than me naturally back then, which I think is pretty impressive because he was still really tough at that time but he was only like 180lbs.”
Although Cornelius was the favorite coming into the match due to the difference in the two men’s achievements, he ended up being submitted with a heel hook after around 90 minutes of action. Cornelius went on to explain how the match reached that conclusion and broke down what he believes were some of Ryan’s biggest strengths:
“He had probably one of the best guards I ever felt at that time. Because like I could pass anyone’s guard at that time, or at least I felt like I could, and I couldn’t pass his guard that whole match. I trained hard and I put it on him for an hour, the last half hour I kinda slowed down. Basically I kinda just gave up, he beat me on an endurance level. If you think about it that’s really Gordon’s main strength, it’s just an insane bull-headed persistence right? Like he’ll just keep going forever.