Nick Rodrigues, aka Nicky Rod is not going to make you feel any better about your Jiu-Jitsu. The recently promoted purple belt has been making waves over the last year in the BJJ scene. Oh and do you know how he got his purple belt? On the podium of the ADCC after taking silver, after only training BJJ for a year.
Nick Rodriguez’s Wrestling Background
Hailing from New Jersey, Nick’s story starts when he was in sixth grade, when he decided to start wrestling for his school team. Nick had tried other sports in school, but Wrestling was something that Nick felt like he could pursue. However, it wasn’t always easy going for Rodriguez. “At the time it was the hardest thing I ever did,” Nick said in an interview with Grappling Insider. “I liked the independence… On the mat you put the work in, or you don’t.”
That really set the tone of Nick’s training, Wrestlers are known to put the work in with gruelling training and conditioning sessions, but Rodriguez was always known to take it to the next level. “Just knowing that I got my ass whopped today, but if I just learn a little bit then soon enough I’ll be able to beat that dude up… that kick-started my training right there.” Nick’s understanding that his attitude towards outworking his opponents was essential to him becoming successful in his sport.
Nick excelled in his high school wrestling team, ranking 7th in the state, however, that wasn’t enough for Nick. He felt his rankings weren’t because of his skills, but more to do with his strength.
Once in college Nick would go on to continue wrestling, but not before he put the work in over the summer, “I gained 50 pounds between the last match at states and the first match in college,” said Nick. “I went from 170 pounds to 220, and it was the best decision I ever made.”
Nick would only attend college for a year, after starting a modelling career Nick realised that education wasn’t for him anyone and he decided to move on.
Nick Rodriguez starts BJJ
After making good money in the fitness industry Nick would be convinced by a friend in 2018 to attend a Jiu-Jitsu class. Initially, he would use it as a reason to keep fir for his growing modeling career, but soon the sport got it’s hooks in him like it always does.
After just two weeks of training, Nick entered a Grappling Industries competition where he would go on to submit 3 out of 5 opponents only to get beaten by a black belt on points.
Nick admits he’s not entirely sure on the rules of BJJ. “I don’t even know the basics,” said Nick. “I don’t know how to break fall, but I’m not going to practice getting fucking taken down, fuck that… All I know is how to take your back, and squeeze your face off, so that’s what I’m going to do.”
A simple but effective strategy which has got him far in such a short amount of time.
But Nick knew he needed to get better if he wanted to be as good in Jiu-Jitsu as he was in wrestling and that’s when he found John Danaher.
Nicky Rod and John Danaher
After a few months of training, Nick was invited to train at the Blue Basement in New York, Team Renzo Gracie.
Nick talks about how he fought his way to Renzo Gracie’s academy in New York. Starting at Ricardo Almeida’s Gym, he would go on to beat everyone in the gym. He then found himself at Tom DeBlass‘ gym, where once again he would eventually be asked to attend training sessions at Renzo Gracie’s with Danaher.
“So pretty much I worked my way up through a tier… I started off at a Ricardo Almeida Association, beat everybody there. They then sent me off to Ricardo‘s where there are a bunch of UFC guys and really great grapplers, beat everybody in that room, and then Tom DeBlass’, beat everybody over there, then Renzo Gracie’s with Danaher, and now I’m trying to beat everybody there.”
Nick’s thirst for growth is what keeps him coming back to John Danaher and training with the Danaher Death Squad has elevated his game to whole new levels, even if he does love to squeeze the face-off people still.
Nick Rodriguez at the ADCC
As a blue belt, Nick would go on to do what very few people would do, qualify for the ADCC after just nine months of training. After coming short in the first ADCC qualifiers and earning a silver medal, Nick would take a second shot at the qualifiers and would earn a gold medal and a spot on the world’s most prestigious grappling tournaments.
Nick would go on to have an incredible year, where he would go on to be invited to compete around the world for some of the most prestigious grappling invitationals including and Polaris in the UK. But all of this was training leading up to the main event, the ADCC.
Nick would go on to have one of the best debuts at the ADCC, going on to beat Aly Muhamed and Roberto ‘Cyborg’ Riberio only to lose for Kaynan Duarte 3 points to 0. After just over a year of training 2nd at ADCC ain’t bad.