Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Legend Gordon Ryan Has a Long Road Back to Competition

Brazilian jiu-jitsu and submission grappler Gordon Ryan has been out of competition for quite some time. What happened? Here's what we kniw.

Allison DeGrushe - Author

May 31 2023, Published 2:22 p.m. ET

Although he signed a multi-fight contract with FloSports in January 2023, Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Gordon Ryan has yet to compete — why? Well, the five-time ADCC World champion has been dealing with a serious illness.

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Wait, what happened to Gordon Ryan? Keep reading for all the known details. Plus, stick around to learn more about Gordon's heartbreaking health issues and whether he'll be medically cleared soon.

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What happened to Gordon Ryan?

Just two days before his fight against Felipe Pena, the four-time Eddie Bravo Invitational champion withdrew due to stomach issues; he was replaced by Nick Rodriguez. Gordon did not compete in the first half of 2023, and on May 22, he revealed this was because he was battling a serious cause of strep throat.

"When I got back from my Abu Dhabi trip, I came down with a severe case of strep throat which ended with me in the hospital because my throat swelled shut," Gordon shared via Instagram alongside a picture of himself in the hospital. "Doctors also couldn't figure out how to cure it since no one ever fails penicillin for a strep infection."

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He said his body rejected antibiotics, which made the situation worse: "I was on over 40 days of antibiotics straight, plus a shot of penicillin." During this time, he couldn't train or interact with others because he was contagious.

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"In addition, my ears were in so much pain from my throat that I couldn't elevate my heart rate at all without having them want to explode and getting a pounding headache," Gordon continued. "So I've been completely inactive for a longer time than I ever have since I started training."

Gordon's infamous stomach ulcers (more on that later) returned, leading to severe nausea and a lack of appetite. He noted that he would deal with that issue following his tonsillectomy and septoplasty, the latter of which would fix his "severely deviated septum."

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One week later, on May 30, the two-time IBJJF No-Gi World champion updated fans on his current athletic status. He revealed that he hasn't done any intense activity in two months — he can't start lifting until mid-June. As for training, he'll have to wait roughly two more months.

"This will make three months of zero activity and five 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," he said.

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Gordon Ryan has suffered health issues for years.

After suffering from an undiagnosed stomach condition for many years, Gordon finally received some answers in April 2021. He shared that he'd been diagnosed with gastroparesis — but this was actually incorrect, and Gordon was really suffering from a fungal growth in his small intestine and a bacterial imbalance.

He explained his condition during a September 2022 episode of the Joe Rogan Experience, detailing just how bad the issue was at the time. Gordon revealed, "It just got worse over time because the fungal growth kept getting worse and worse. And it was affecting my kidney function, it was just awful.

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"I was 24/7 nauseous. The best way that I can describe is — the worst hangover you ever had. Like, you want to throw up to feel better, but you can't," he added. "And imagine you go to training, with the worse hangover you've ever had. And then you have to run a marathon 30 minutes later. So, the more tired you get — the worse it gets."

Other illnesses that Gordon experiences, including strep throat, have caused this stomach issue to return.

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