When submission grappling superstar Gordon Ryan signed with ONE Championship in 2021, fans were intrigued. Many were curious about how “The King” would fare against elite fighters when grappling is suddenly mixed with striking.
But as the 27-year-old continues to rack up wins in submission grappling, his MMA future is looking bleak. As he told Ariel Helwani in a recent episode of the MMA Hour, part of his decision is also influenced by his longtime mentor, John Danaher.
“John [Danaher] has never been wrong, our coach has never been wrong about anything. He’s never been wrong.
“He’s told me things and whether it be five years or three years or seven years later, he always ends up being right, and John is like, ‘Absolutely do not go into MMA. You already make a ton of money doing this, you’re considered the greatest of all time already, and jiu-jitsu is about to become mainstream, and once it becomes mainstream everyone is going to get paid more and jiu-jitsu is going to be a real sport. You’re at the forefront of that and if you move to MMA now, that could be lost.’
“So I don’t know. Maybe if one of the other guys from the team wins an ADCC Absolute or something.
While he isn’t closing his doors, Ryan says he’d rather focus on what he feels is his obligation to “push jiu-jitsu” into further mainstream recognition.
“I’ve always wanted to fight MMA, but I’m in such a good position now and I feel like it’s kind of my job to push jiu-jitsu over the hump into the mainstream. So I’m not totally ruling it out but I’m pretty comfortable with just grappling right now.
“I’m like the Mayweather or McGregor of jiu-jitsu. I don’t make nearly as much money as them but in proportion to the rest of the guys. But my goal in the next five to 10 years is to have athletes, at least with purses — most of my money comes from instructionals.
“Most of my jiu-jitsu money comes from instructional videos, so I don’t think anyone is going to make as much money teaching as I do, because I think I’m a much better teacher, but I do think that in the next five to 10 years, athletes could be making similar money to what I’m making now just through competition purses.
“I think that an athlete in jiu-jitsu in the next five to 10 years should be making over $1 million a year just competing. And if we can do that, I think we’ll have something going for us.”
Ryan, who hasn’t lost since 2018, is set for a Nogi superfight against fellow ADCC champion Felipe Pena.