Ryan “Who Dat” Keenan becomes Professor Jonathan Burke’s FIRST Royce Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt
In November of 2014, 6 Levels Orlando youth head coach and professional fighter Ryan “Who Dat” Keenan was preparing for his upcoming fight in one of the larger organizations outside of the UFC. The event is called World Series of Fighting (WSOF) and it is full of extremely tough competitors and up and coming superstars. Ryan had been putting in massive amount of training, cutting weight, eating right, commuting to Gracie Tampa for additional fight camp assistance and just basically sacrificing everything as all great fighters have to do when entering in to battle.
After a long hard fought battle against a very formidable opponent, Ryan had submitted him with a rear naked choke (RNC) in the 2nd round. It was an extremely impressive victory to say the least.
So for a few months I had wanted to promote Ryan but every time I wanted to do it, I internally felt like there was a better moment to come that would be the perfect time to promote him for his life changing milestone. So those who know me, especially my wife, know that I am terrible at when I want to surprise people with something I’m excited about so keeping this a surprise was near impossible for me especially because I was so excited to give Ryan who had worked so hard for 9 years and for all of his fights this incredibly hard earned reward on his Gracie Jiu-Jitsu journey.
So I put his black belt in my backpack that I always bring to his fights when I corner. I asked one of the corner men to hold it up his jeans leg for me. Once Ryan won the fight I signaled for the belt. When the referee was holding his hand up to the thousands in the stadium and more on the streaming net including about 200 of his friends and family, I held up the belt behind him and slowly lowered it down in front of his face and pure raw emotion overcame us both.
It was one of my most special and favorite days in MY entire 24 years of teaching and training Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.