In competitive Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), there has been a surge of new, young superstars. ADCC Champion Gordon Ryan is twenty-three-years-old and has been training for under ten years. Craig Jones, the Polaris middleweight champion, is only twenty-eight. And there’s plenty more from where that came.
Today, Evolve Daily highlights three of the names you might not know yet, but you will soon. These grapplers may not be household names today, but tomorrow’s coming up quickly.
Hasiam Rida, 25, is a Ghanaian black belt training at Carpe Diem in Tokyo, Japan. Rida was recently promoted to black belt, but he has some serious accolades under his belt in the colored belt ranks.
Rida is the heavyweight and absolute 2015 IBJJF Sao Paulo Open purple belt champion, the 2016 UAEJJF Grand Slam Tokyo purple belt champion, and the heavyweight and absolute 2017 JBJJF All Japan brown belt champion.
Most recently, and most notably, however, were Rida’s performances at QUINTET.
QUINTET, the brainchild of grappling legends Kazushi Sakuraba and Josh Barnett, is a team-versus-team grappling tournament with several unique components. There are five grapplers per team, and the winner of each match (which can only be won by submission) stays on the mat to face the opposing team’s next competitor.
Rida, competing for Sakuraba’s Haleo Dream Team, took out all three of the Team Tiger Muay Thai team members he faced in devastating fashion at QUINTET 2.
The Ghanaian also scored the lone Team Sakuraba victory in the finals match against Team 10th Planet, a match Team Sakuraba ultimately lost. Rida tapped out 10th Planet black belt Richie Martinez before falling short to Richie’s brother, Geo Martinez.
After the event, Rida earned his BJJ black belt. The Carpe Diem product is ready to make noise at heavyweight on the global scene, and he has momentum on his side.
Nicky Ryan, 17, is the youngest grappler on this list, and perhaps the youngest world-class grappler currently competing.
The younger brother of the aforementioned Gordon Ryan, Nicky is an uber-talented competitor based out of the Renzo Gracie Academy, specifically under the tutelage of John Danaher.
While Ryan is barely old enough to drive a car, he’s more than capable of dispatching of virtually every opponent he has faced. Ryan has steamrolled through the best of 10th Planet, submitting black belt and leg lock extraordinaire, Marvin Castelle, and beating the gym’s top competitor, Geo Martinez, via decision.
Ryan made history at ADCC 2017 as the youngest competitor to ever compete at the prestigious tournament. There, he fell short to eventual bronze medal-winning AJ Agazarm, by no means a shameful defeat.
In his most recent bout, Ryan defeated storied MMA veteran, Hideo Tokoro, shockingly quickly via submission at QUINTET 3, continuing his massive upward trajectory.
Currently, Ryan is scheduled to face the wily and innovative Masakazu Imanari at Polaris 8 in his latest daring attempt at defeating a grappling legend.
Nicky Ryan may be young, but that merely adds to just how impressive he has been to date. Ryan has in the past stated that his goal is to be the greatest grappler ever, and with his youth and accolades to date, he might just be able to pull that off.
Devhonte Johnson, 24, is a newly promoted black belt under Murilo Santana. The Unity Jiu Jitsu product demolished the colored belt scene and is looking to make a splash at black belt.
Johnson is as accomplished as they come, having won the 2017 IBJJF World Championship as a purple belt and the 2018 IBJJF World Championship as a brown belt. Johnson is also a four-time IBJJF No-Gi World Champion, having earned that distinction at blue, purple, and brown belt.
As if Johnson’s multiple IBJJF Worlds gold medals weren’t enough, he has also taken first place at the 2016 and 2017 IBJJF Pans (in both gi and no-gi), 2017 and 2018 IBJJF European Open, and the 2017 IBJJF American Nationals No-Gi tournament at both his weight and absolute.
It is hard to overstate just how impressive Johnson’s resume is. “Bones”, as he is known, is one of the most accomplished and feared competitors to have grappled as a colored belt.
He’ll look to carry over his jaw-dropping career as a colored belt in his transition to black belt, and you’ll be sure to hear about it every step of the way.