American grappling phenom Gordon Ryan is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and arguably the greatest no-gi grappler of all time. What makes his achievements even more impressive is the fact that he has been battling a stomach condition called gastroparesis for the majority of his career. In a recent Instagram post, Ryan shocked fans with his reverse body transformation where he looked significantly downsized from health challenges.
Gordon Ryan found his passion for grappling in his teenage years. He started learning from fellow standout Garry Tonon and joined the renowned Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach John Danaher to improve his abilities. Danaher’s gifted mind for the game combined with Tonon’s skills and Ryan’s insane athleticism saw them forge a solid partnership. The group went on to achieve unparalleled heights in the sport with Ryan at the helm of the now-disbanded ‘Danaher Death Squad.’
Ryan won the coveted ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) World Championship, considered the most prestigious submission grappling competition in the world, in the -88-kilogram weight category in 2017. The following year, he came out on top of the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) World No-Gi and Pan No-Gi Championships, winning both at his weight category and the absolute class.
The 27-year-old scored his second ADCC title in 2019 with a dominant performance. He defeated his training partner Garry Tonon on his way to winning the -99 kg group as well as the absolute division. Besides his grappling talents, Ryan made headlines for his insanely jacked physique transformation. He packed on the pounds to boast impressive muscle mass, size, and conditioning.
Ryan had been dealing with stomach issues since the early days of his career. After a faulty diagnosis, it was revealed he was suffering from a fungal growth in his small intestine and a bacterial imbalance. The issue stemming from 2019 worsened due to his high exposure to antibiotics and other illnesses. Danaher and Ryan later explained that he competed while dealing with excruciating pain. Although Ryan signed a deal with ONE Championship in 2021, he did not get to compete under the banner due to gut issues.
Gordon Ryan created history by becoming the first competitor to participate in both the super fight and the weight class at the 2022 ADCC. He handily dispatched the competition in the +99kg group, setting a new record for the fastest submission in the show’s history at 11 seconds, and also won the super-fight against prolific grappler Andre Galvao.
Ryan joins forces with iconic Strongman Hafthor Bjornsson and Martins Licis for a training session last December. Despite the massive size difference, Ryan tapped out both giants in a friendly rolling session. ‘The King’ has been on the sidelines this year because of his stomach problems. He pinned the blame on antibiotics demolishing his healthy gut microbiome, which ended up exacerbating his GI issues.
Ryan documented his health conditions on his social media channels. On May 22, he revealed he suffered “a severe case of strep throat” which did not heal from penicillin. He said his stomach worsened, prompting surgery for a tonsillectomy and to fix his deviated septum. Then, he got IV liquids to speed up his recovery following the surgery.
Gordon Ryan shocks fans with insane reverse body transformation
In a recent Instagram post, Gordon Ryan gave fans a look into his reverse body transformation with a snap where he looked significantly downsized from his previous jacked self.
“Everyone posts their best. Be confident enough to post your worst,” wrote Ryan. “This post is simply to update everyone on my current athletic status. I’m not asking for sympathy or help, and in fact, would prefer if you lose faith in me so I can prove you wrong like I always do. The last time I was this size,(201 lbs,20+ lbs this week) I was 21 years old. When I got the strep in early March, my ears became so inflamed that every time I elevated my heart rate I felt my head would explode. It’s been 2 months since I’ve been able to do any intense activity. I spoke with my doctor and got the silicone stints taken out of my nose and I’m told I cant start lifting for another 3 weeks and training for roughly 2 months. This will make 3 months of 0 activity and 5 months of no training. That, coupled with the fact that over 40 days of antibiotics wasn’t great for my stomach, it’s safe to say I have a long road back to competition. My focus now, as an athlete, is on getting healthy and helping my team mates/students prepare for matches. No matter how ill I’ve been, there’s nothing worse than not being there to help them prepare for upcoming matches, and not being there to give @danaherjohn the Gordon he deserves.
My goal in this sport is simple- double gold in ADCC until I’m 40 years old and have more ADCC medals than Buchecha has world titles. That being said, for 5 years now, my body, specifically my immune system and stomach have been barely cooperating with this plan. Given the time ive missed to nurse my pathetic body back to health, it may be difficult long term to stay ahead of the curve I was once far ahead of. I have done so thus far and have no intention of letting those down to depend on me. The goal isn’t to be in the mix having fun. Winning, that’s what’s fun for me. I will attempt to, and succeed at staying on top until my body quits on me completely. Doctor prescribed antibiotics are as much a gift as they are a curse. Theyve saved my life a fair amount of times, yet also ruined it. Antibiotics have done my body more harm than anything else in my life. Thank you for being patient with my competition schedule. Just know, when I come back, boy, will I be back.”
Seven-time Men’s 212 Olympia champion Flex Lewis weighed in with his best wishes for Ryan.
“You be back bigger and stronger than ever. Let your body heel,” wrote Lewis. “Always here to help in anyways I can CHAMP.”
The photo drew a lot of heat from fans who theorized steroid use caused the condition. It’s important to note PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs) are suspected to be rampant in the sport of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. However, it’s only Gordon Ryan suffering from such health challenges which could suggest his gut issues are to blame for the change in his physique as opposed to getting off steroids.
“Bro came off the GH and test too,” commented one.
“Damn I knew he was juicing but I didn’t know he was JUICING,” wrote a user.
Another said, “A health crisis doesn’t rob you of your physic. Not being on cycle does lol.”
“I didn’t know stopping steroids was a health crisis,” wrote one.
“Health crisis. Getting off steroids is not a health crisis, abusing steroids to the point your internal organs almost explode is not a health crisis. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes,” commented another.
“Bro you need to stop taking steroids, it’s killing you,” said one.
“Stop taking/cycling roids then.. Your body is screaming for help bruh,” wrote a user.
Gordon Ryan is expected to spend the remainder of the year out of competition in recovery. While the change in his physique is quite drastic, he’s confident he could turn things around and get back to his best self with time.