Nick Rodriguez – The Next Gen Hybrid Grappler
Nick Rodriguez, AKA Nicky Rod is freestyle wrestler and grappler from New Jersey. In the last couple of years Nick has made big waves in the BJJ world by defeating a number of high level opponents. Most impressively Nick has managed to do this despite a very limited amount of time spent training in the sport. Nick currently trains at the Renzo Gracie Academy in Manhattan and is a member of the infamous Danaher Death Squad.
He is well known for his impressive physique and aggressive wrestling style which he uses to his advantage in competitive BJJ. His look and wrestling skills are complemented by his online trash talking which he successfully uses promote his fights.
Nick Rodriguez Wrestling
Nick Rodriguez is originally from South Jersey. He attended Clayton School where he tried a number of different sports before settling on wrestling.
Nick was attracted to wrestling due to the physical challenge that wrestling presented. He also preferred the fact that wrestling was an individual sport where success was dependent on his own hard work and preparation.
He finished his senior year with a record of 111-17 in the 170 lb weight class. Upon graduation he secured a spot at Ferrum College in Virginia where he continued to wrestle. He only wrestled during his freshman year at Ferrum College in Virginia, but he a managed to compile a decent 34-4 record which put him at a rank of #12 in the country. He was also included in the Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) Wrestling All-State first team in the 197-pound weight class.
Nick Rodriguez takes up Jiu Jitsu
During his Sophmore year Nick decided try his hand at fitness modelling to make some extra cash. After some early success he signed with Wilhelmina Models and decided that he would pursue a career in the industry. Now that he had stopped wrestling Nick took up BJJ to keep in shape for his new job. He was already aware of BJJ and thought that it might be a good fit so signed up for classes at South Jersey BJJ.
Straight away his talent was evident for everyone to see including South Jersey BJJ coach Jay Regalbuto. Supposedly Nick was able to use his power and speed to immediately pass the guard and submit even the most experienced grapplers in the academy. After only a month of training Regalbuto encourage Nick to sign up for a competition. Nick signed up for an upcoming Grappling Industries event and registered in the Super Heavy and Expert Nogi divisions. The tournament could not have gone better for Nick who won 7 from 7 matches. 5 of these wins coming by way of submission. He beat guys from blue to black belt which convinced Regalbuto that he should compete at the upcoming East Coast trials.
South Jersey BJJ is affiliated to Renzo Gracie so Regalbuto arranged for Rodriguez to get sessions in at other academies such as Tom Deblass’ gym and Renzo Gracie HQ in Manhattan.
Rodriguez fought in the ADCC East trials and went 3-1 in the competition, coming up just short of a qualification spot. After his performance he received his purple belt on the podium. After a few more months of training Nick entered the West Coast trials. He won all three of his matches and defeated experienced competitors such as Jimmy Friederich and Jon Hansen on the way to gold. This win secured his place for the upcoming 2019 ADCC championship.
For the next few months Rodriguez dedicated himself to learning as much as he could and competing as much as possible in preparation for the ADCC. He began primarily training with John Danaher and his team alongside the likes of Gordon Ryan, and Craig Jones.
While preparing for the ADCC he told BJJ fanatics about how Jiu Jitsu had positively changed his life:
Jiu Jitsu has honestly made me a happier person and has helped with my people skills tremendously. The networking involved with this sport has truly helped me blossom socially. Meeting different people each week allows me to give everyone a better understanding of the person I am.
Rodriguez qualified for the Super Heavy division which included IBJJF world champion Kaynan Duarte and former ADCC champion Cyborg Abreu. Nick faced ADCC vets Orlando Sanchez and Mahammed Aly in his first 2 matches. He did not manage to score a single point in either match but won both of them by decision.
Nick faced Cyborg in a incredibly tight match in the semi final. It was not a particularly pretty match but was exciting as a result of the intensity that both fighters brought. The match had a few entertaining scrambles and one near back take from Rodriguez but ultimately it went into overtime. Cyborg was close to an armbar at one stage but Nick escaped. When it was over the referee awarded the match to Rodriguez which infuriated Cyborg who began protesting loudly. Cyborg continued his protest off the mat and refused to compete in the 3rd/4th place match.
Nick was ultimately beaten in the final by Kaynan Duarte who was too technical for Nick. Kaynan won the match 3-0 taking the gold and leaving Nick with Silver.
After the tournament Nicks popularity skyrocketed. Many people were shocked that a blue belt with only a year or so of BJJ experience was able to make it all the way to an ADCC final.
Post ADCC life
Rodriguez continues to train with the Danaher Death Squad and gets other sessions in with Tom DeBlass when he can. He also frequents the New Jersey Regional Training Center twice a week to keep his wrestling skills sharp.
Since his ADCC success Nick Rodriguez has also competed in a number of super fights. These fights have included matches against current UFC fighter Luke Rockhold at Polaris and a rematch with Kaynan Duarte at Fight to Win.
His increased visibility in terms of profile has also presented other opportunities for Nick. He has made it no secret that one of his primary goals is to makes as much money as possible in a relatively short period of time. He has clearly been inspired by the success of Gordon and other Nogi grapplers who are part of a new generation of fighters who are making good money from competing and BJJ instructionals.
Rodriguez has even considered becoming a WWE performer. Last year he attended the try outs at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. However his focus seems to be on Nogi Grappling with his main goal being to win gold at the 2021 ADCC championships.