Breakdown: Gordon Ryan’s performance at Quintet 3

Quintet 3 took place last Friday night in Las Vegas. For many it may of slipped under the radar in what was a very busy weekend for mixed martial arts and BJJ competition. However for those of us that were lucky enough to catch it, we got to witness an incredible performance from Gordon Ryan and a masterclass in Nogi grappling.

For those not familiar with the Quintet format, it is a team based event knock out style event. This time around there were four teams of five (Team Sakuraba, Team Urijah Faber, Team Polaris and Team 10th Planet). There are strict penalties for stalling and heel hooks are not allowed.

Here is a breakdown of each of Gordon’s 6 matches. He won 4 matches by submission and the dominated the action in the other 2 drawn matches.

The event is still available to stream on UFC fightpass

Match One

Gordon faced current UFC heavy weight and veteran catch wrestler Josh Barnett in the first match. Barnett has submission wins over Ryron Gracie and Dean Lister in BJJ competition and is notoriously tough.

Ryan decided pull guard straight away and was quickly able to work a butterfly sweep which is seriously impressive considering that Barnett must weight close to 230 pounds.

Ryan then quickly proceeded to mount and began to work to control the arms. Barnett attempted to scramble back to top but Gordon managed to lock up a triangle during the transition and the tap soon followed.

Match Two

Gordons next opponent was Marcos Souza. He decided to keep this one standing and aggressively chased a takedown. After securing a nice knee tap takedown he quickly secured mount but was soon stood up under the ultra strict stalling rule that quintet have.

Ryan quickly secured another takedown and went quickly passed with a nice leg weave. From here he mounted which then led to a back take. Once here Gordon wasted  no time applying his back attack system and Souza was forced to tap with his foot as Gordon had both defending arms trapped. A beautiful display of grappling.

Match 3

Ryan’s third match against Roberto Souza. Knowing that a draw was enough Gordon seemed to take a bit of a breather in this match. Both athletes exchanged positions with the most significant moment in the match coming when Ryan landed a takedown.

Souza briefly managed to get Gordons back at the end but it was too little too late.

Match 4

In his 4th match Gordon face aussie grappler and part time sparring mate Craig Jones. The 2 men are very familiar with each others games and have previously had very exciting matches including a classic final match-up on EBI 14.

As soon as the match began Gordon shot a single leg takedown but got caught in what looked like a decent guillotine. However Gordon was able to free his head and proceeded to mount Jones.

Gordon contolled the mount for a while until he got a chance to take the back.  From here he looked as if he was about to begin the back attack sequence but instead quickly spotted a chance to immediately lock up a short choke which resulted in an instant tap from Jones. A tough match for Jones considering he was coming straight off 2 matches and Ryan came in fresh after a short break.

Match 5

The next match was against Vitor Riberio. Ryan quickly got the takedown and tried to work the takedown from half guard. Ryan had to work harder than usual for the pass but once in side control he attempted a mount but instead took the back in response to Vitors defense movement. From here Vitor put up some good defense to Gordons back attacks so he decided to attack an armbar instead which he beautifully executed to finish the match.

Match Six

In his final match Ryan faced Gregor Gracie. Both athletes look a little tired at the beginning of the match and Gracie got the takedown. From here they exchanged leg positions until Gordon swept the top. After one warning for stalling Gordon seemed rested enough to begin attacking again and attack with a beautiful arm drag which got him to mount.

He attacked relentlessly for the arm triangle and Gregor was forced to give up his back. Gordon desperately tried to finish before the clock ran out but did not succeed. The match was declared a draw but in reality it was another domination by Gordon

Main takeaways from Gordons performance.

Nogi Passing

When you watch the IBJJF nogi worlds matches are very often decided on advantages and sweeps.  Many experts claim that lack of grips and increased athletism of athletes means that nogi guard passing is generally much harder to do than in the Gi.

Nobody seems to have told Gordon this though as he seemed to breeze through all his opponents guards on Friday night. Using a combination of bodylocks, weaves, windshield wiper, and smash passing Gordon racked up the passes as he progressed to more dominant positions that would allow him to finish the fight.

The ban on heelhooks forced Gordon to break through his opponents guards and advance in an attempt to get better positions to set up his submissions. This was a rare treat for grappling fans who have become used to seeing Gordon fighting in the 50/50 position and working his leg attacks.

Back control system

Gordon took the back of each of his 4 opponents and submitted 2 by RNC, and won another with an armbar from back control.

In the two matches he won by RNC we got to see him implement the now famous Danaher back control system to control his opponents defending arms which then easily allowed him to sink in the choke.

Ryan’s younger brother Nicky used the same sequence to get the finish in his own match. It was also interesting to see Craig Jones use the system which he himself has picked up from his frequent visits to the blue basement in NYC.


Fridays matches gave us another chance to see Gordon’s wrestling in action. He used a combination of arm drags and knee taps to takedown all but one of his opponents. He decided to pull guard on Josh Barnett which was probably a tactical position against the catch wrestler.

Ryan is definitely comfortable standing with 99% of grapplers and has a solid mix of Judo and wrestling attacks. Even if you get him down he will most likely be looking to transition quickly into attacks.


This event really highlighted just how big a gas tank Gordon has. The winner stays on format is a particularly exhausting experience for any grappler. However Gordon looked fresh as each new opponent came in and wasted no time in quickly dominating them despite being them having a rest advantage.