Garry Tonon might have been the star of the 16-man, openweight tournament bracket at the sixth Eddie Bravo Invitational, but it was his pupil and understudy Gordon Ryan who took home four submission wins and $25,000 at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday.
The 20-year-old Ryan, a Brunswick BJJ and Renzo Gracie Team product who trains under John Danaher, blazed through the field at EBI 6, submitting Jacen Flynn, Marcello Bergo, Abu Dhabi Combat Club 2015 champion Yuri Simoes, and Russian powerhouse ADCC placer Rustam Chsiev in the finals. By night's end, Gordon had racked up three rear-naked choke finishes and a kneebar to boot. Better still, Ryan entered the tournament on just over one week's notice, a late replacement for injured teammate Eddie Cummings.
After rear-naked choking MMA veteran Flynn in regulation, Ryan hit a beautiful kneebar in a minute’s time against Brazilian Top Team's Bergo. While Ryan advanced beyond the quarterfinals with his leglock over Bergo, his mentor and tournament favorite Garry Tonon was defeated by Simoes in the third overtime period, with the Brazilian having the quickest escape from back mount in the extra period. Ryan would avenge his teammate and tutor in the next round, using overtime to his advantage against the larger Simoes, who tired and couldn't defend Ryan's vicious back mount in overtime before succumbing to the rear-naked choke.
K-Dojo Warrior Tribe’s Chsiev opened up his night by hitting a forceful north-south choke on Amir Allam, then used his physical strength and explosion to best both D.J. Jackson and Matheus Diniz, beating both on the quickest escape in the third overtime period. In the finals, however, Chsiev's relentless top pressure didn't tire Ryan out. If anything, the Russian was the more tired party heading into overtime, and when the second extra period struck, Ryan's offensively gifted back mount was too much for the tired Chsiev, opening up Ryan's third RNC of the night.
The aforementioned Diniz, a Marcelo Garcia black belt, hit an inverted straight armbar on 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu’s Richie Martinez to earn his semifinal spot alongside Ryan, Chsiev and Simoes.
In addition to Ryan’s rear-naked choke of Flynn and Chsiev’s north-south choke of Allan, the opening round of 16 saw Tonon take out Felipe Fogolin with a heel hook, Simoes tap Evandro Nunes with a rear-naked choke in overtime, and Marcello Bergo sub Fabian Bolanos with an armbar. Richie Martinez earned a rear-naked choke aganist Jimmy Friedrich in the third overtime, Matheus Diniz submitted Lucas Rocha with a rear-naked choke in the first OT period, and D.J. Jackson tapped Bruno Bastos with a guillotine choke.
In the evening's non-tournament bout, 13-year-old prodigy Grace Gundrum, out of Bethlelem, Pa.'s 10th Planet affiliate, put a smile on promoter Eddie Bravo's face, hitting the 10th Planet-approved “dead orchard” triangle choke on Bianca Lebosnoyani, with both arms trapped inside the triangle.
Correction: This story originally stated that Ryan took home $50,000 for his tournament win. As he only submitted two of his opponents in regulation, Ryan took home $25,000.