Written By: Matt Saucier
Who is Nick Rodriguez?
If you follow jiujitsu or submission grappling in any way you've likely already seen the name or heard someone in the gym mention the name. Nick Rodriguez, the grappler who took 3rd at the ADCC East Coast Trials with just 6 months of training jiujitsu and won the ADCC West Coast Trials a few months later. Ok I know what you're thinking and yes there is more to the story but I promise this is one guy you're going to want to keep an eye on.
I can fully admit I was late to the party with this one. Every year there are new “flashes in the pan”; guys who are suppose to be the next big thing, only to disappear a year later. Nick Rodriguez on the other hand has convinced me in just a few months that he may be something special. His coach Jay Regalbuto apparently knew even sooner saying,
“I saw him training his 2nd night and new he was special”. - Regalbuto
So who is Nick Rodriguez? And how does a blue belt win the ADCC West Coast Trials? They don’t, which is why you should be paying attention. Nick started out his grappling journey wrestling at Clayton High School with a record of 111-17. He completed another year of wrestling at Ferrum College, a D3 school in Virginia, finishing that season with a respectable 34-4, placing him at #12 in the country. During the 2015 season
After some time away from competing Nick found his way back to the mats simply as a way to stay in shape for his job as a model. However he found training jiujitsu reignited his love of competing. Luckily for him his coach, Jay Regalbuto, has been in the involved with BJJ since 2006 and happens to be friends with ADCC champ Gordan Ryan. Now that you have some back-story lets do a quick grappling rewind of just SOME of Nick’s accomplishments since starting jiujitsu. (Nine months ago)
1 month into training (June 2nd 2018) Grappling Industries NJ
Expert Super Heavy division and Expert Absolute division going 7-0 finishing 5 out of 7 with a combined 70-0 points
3 Months into training Naga NJ
Expert Super heavyweight division going 3-0 subbing 2 out of the 3.
3-5 Months into training Men of War, Gamblers Classic and Rise Invitational
3 super matches, submitting all 3 opponents
1 Month before ADCC East Coast Trials
Attends a private lesson set up by Jay Regalbuto with Gordan Ryan at Renzo’s.
Then came what would be Nick’s biggest test to date, The ADCC East Coast Trials. A place anyone can make a name for themselves. A place where anyone can punch their ticket to ADCC, arguably the biggest jiujitsu event in the world. While Nick fell short of his goal of walking away with gold he did put the NoGi world on notice landing a massive suplex in this first match and rounding out the day finishing in 3rd place going 3-1. Now don’t get me wrong home grown competitors place and win big events all the time however when I hear that this particular competitor has only been training 6 months at the time of the trials and is currently training with Gordan Ryan I make sure to add that competitor to my pay-attention-to-this-guy list. Nick’s next big stage was competing in the IBJJF NoGi Worlds. Surprise, surprise Nick won gold, submitting all 3 of his opponents in under 4 minutes.
Lastly we have his most recent challenge, The ADCC West Coast Trials. Nick having “only” placed 3rd at the east coast trials would have to prove himself at the west coast trials if he wanted any shot at competing in ADCC later this year. So how did he do? Nick Rodriguez went 5-0 with 3 submissions including a win over black belt Casey Hellenberg (Prior ADCC West Coast Trials winner).
One would think after winning Worlds and punching his ticket to ADCC Nick might start to slow down but his coach Jay Regalbuto has said its been anything but that. Nick is currently lifting daily, attending 7 sessions of jiujitsu at various schools every week, including the infamous blue basement, as well as at least 2 wrestling sessions minimum weekly. This isn't just another in shape wrestler doing jiujitsu tournaments, this is a guy traveling almost 900 miles a week to get the training in to be with the best in the world. I can’t think of another person who has managed to earn his way to ADCC 9 months after starting their jiujitsu journey. Oh and one more thing - he’s only 22….
As always make sure to tune into the Grappling Rewind Podcast to get all your updates on all things grappling related.