2019 ADCC North American Trials: Nicky Ryan vs Keith Krikorian

Photo by Flograppling

Written by Rome G. Lytton IV


"Ryan’s face says it all as the choke looked tight, but Ryan is able to follow Krikorian’s hips just enough to pull his head out and end up on top looking to pass."

The 66kg bracket showcased some of the biggest names in sports grappling, and the final didn’t let us down. When you have an older brother who’s already established himself deep into the game, it’s easy to forget the younger brother in his shadow, despite their own athletic achievements:

  1. Eli Manning to Peyton

  2. Sergio Pettis to Anthony

  3. Bruce Irons to Andy

     However, some siblings create their own path. Nicky Ryan did just that at the 2019 ADCC North American Trials.

The match between he and Keith Krikorian had me on the edge of my seat even before the match started. Krikorian was one of the grapplers I had in my pool to win 66kg bracket, so when I saw him matched up against Ryan, I knew it had all the ingredients for an epic encounter.

     The crowd’s attention shifted over toward the mat where the two athletes were about to see who would take the day’s championship and earn their way to compete in the ADCC World Championship later this year. I could feel the energy through my computer screen, and the crowd went silent.

     Both athletes test the water by throwing faints to see how their opponent will react to either a grip or shoot from a takedown. Krikorian leaves an elbow open, and Ryan takes the opportunity to chain an arm drag to an inside foot hook on his right leg. Krikorian is just able to sprawl his hips back and attack Ryan’s exposed neck to counter any further progression. Ryan senses he is in a bad spot but stays calm and backs his hips away. He is able to create enough space to escape before Krikorian can snap him down.

     They return to the center and continue to look for a dominant grip. Ryan establishes a strong collar tie and interlocks his fingers with Krikorian’s right hand. Krikorian refuses to give Ryan the advantage with the collar tie and sets up his own collar tie to shake Ryan off. But this motion opens up his left elbow, and Ryan finds an opening to grab and underhook. Nice transition from Ryan.   

     Krikorian then faints a throw attempt. When Ryan counters the movement, Krikorian finds an opening to circle his arm out. Ryan knows he has lost the position and calmly backs out. Back to where they started.

     Krikorian goes for a strong collar tie which briefly snaps Ryan off his center line, but he is quick to re-center. At this point, the pace of the match intensifies as both athletes shove each other to find an opening for a takedown. It is clear both grapplers have trained a lot of wrestling prior to this event, neither willing to give up any type of hand grip or collar tie.

     Just then, Ryan finds an opening and establishes a body lock on Krikorian. It looks like Ryan will secure the takedown, but just as before, he exposes his neck enough for Krikorian to apply a tight guillotine attempt. Krikorian threatens a butterfly sweep and then “X’s” his right foot under his left. Ryan’s face says it all as the choke looked tight, but Ryan is able to follow Krikorian’s hips just enough to pull his head out and end up on top looking to pass.

     Krikorian pushes away, but Ryan follows him like a crab and scoots closer, establishing control on his right leg. Ryan looks to set up a leg lock, but Krikorian is not intimidated. He goes for Ryan’s left leg to counter, but Ryan stands up for a pass. He continues to pour on the pressure with another body lock, but Krikorian’s strong fame and good hips allow him to swim his left knee in to create enough space to circle under Ryan’s left arm. He uses the position to crank down on Ryan’s shoulder with a Gable grip. Ryan feels the pressure and controls Krikorian’s left foot so he won’t be able to swing it over. He stands up aggressively and shoves Krikorian out of bounds. Krikorian shoots Ryan a death stare as both men reset.

     Ryan tries for a double leg with an outside foot hook on Krikorian’s right leg, but his head posture is still too low. Krikorian transitions into an arm-in guillotine, but Ryan again is able to find his hips and shake off the attempt. The crowd erupts into cheers for both athletes upon this exchange. 

     Krikorian shoots in for a single leg takedown. Ryan’s hips sprawl back, and at that moment, he sees the chance to attack Krikorian’s neck. Krikorian knows he’s in danger and abandons his single leg attack to fight Ryan’s grip around his neck, but that allows Ryan to take his back.

     Krikorian tries to roll Ryan off of his back, but Ryan slaps in a body triangle to set up a rear naked choke. Krikorian does his best to fight off the RNC by tucking his chin and hand fighting, but he fights the arm wrapped around his chin instead of the one sneaking behind his head. He does his best to squeeze out, but Ryan’s grip is too tight, and he is forced to tap by jaw crank.

Ryan punches his ticket to the 2019 ADCC World Championship and adds a trophy to his case big brother Gordon doesn’t have.

     “I’m the king now,” says Nicky.


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