PRO MMA up-and-comer spotlight: Ryan “Who Dat” Keenan

As the sport of MMA continues to grow we see more and more fighters with backgrounds in other sports make the transition to MMA. Ryan “Who Dat” Keenan played collegiate football at NCAA division 3 Mount Union College in Ohio. In the off season for extra conditioning Ryan took up boxing and over four years amassed a 14-0-1 record in fifteen exhibition bouts.

After graduating with a B.A. degree from Mount Union College he moved to Orlando and began training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the tutelage of Royce Gracie Black Belt Jonathan Burke, who also happens to train NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal.

Undefeated in professional MMA competition, Ryan fought his last bout back in February against The Ultimate Fighter season six contestant Blake Bowman. Ryan took Bowman out with a first round TKO. PRO MMA (promma.info) writer Dusty Adams recently spoke with Ryan about the academy where he trains and teaches, trying out for The Ultimate Fighter, his goals within the sport, what Shaq is like in the gym, and more.

PRO MMA: Ryan how long have you been training in MMA and where do you train?
Ryan Keenan: I’ve been training MMA for a little over two years now. I train at The 6 Levels Orlando (formerly Gracie Orlando).

PRO MMA: You also teach at The 6 Levels Orlando is that correct?
Ryan Keenan: Yes, I teach the children’s 6-9 year old jiu-jitsu class and assist with the kids 10-12 year old class.

PRO MMA: What is your current record and what weight class do you fight at?
Ryan Keenan: I’m 3-0 with 2 T(KO)’s and 1 submission and I fight at 170.

PRO MMA: In your last fight you won by T(KO) in the first round over Blake Bowman of TUF 6 fame. Did it feel more special beating a guy from TUF or was it just another victory?
Ryan Keenan: I wasn’t originally supposed to fight Blake, he was a last minute change but it was definitely good to fight a guy that’s had a lot of exposure and a good fan base. A win is a win to me, but it did feel different from my other victories because I was considered the underdog because Blake was on TUF.

PRO MMA: You also had a tryout with TUF and made it to the third stage in the process is that correct?
Ryan Keenan: Yes, I was invited out to Chicago to try out for TUF season 9. I made it to the final round which was the interview round and from that round you got to Las Vegas for medicals but unfortunately I didn’t get the call back.

PRO MMA: What was the whole experience like?
Ryan Keenan: The experience was great. I got to meet a lot of good people and I got a lot of face time with some pretty high ups for the UFC so overall it was an awesome experience.

PRO MMA: Do you have any upcoming fights scheduled?
Ryan Keenan: I have nothing official as of now but I am training every day and I’m hoping for a fight in September or October.

PRO MMA: What are your long term goals in MMA?
Ryan Keenan: The main goal is to make it to the big show, the UFC and also just to be the best fighter I can be at 170 pounds. I love this sport and hope to stay in the game as long as I can.

PRO MMA: For those that may not know Shaquille O’Neal from the NBA trains at the same gym as you with the owner and head trainer Jonathan Burke. Do you ever roll with Shaq or do any sparring with him?
Ryan Keenan: I’ve worked out a lot with Shaq and done a lot of conditioning and drills but I’m not in a hurry to get into any sparring match with him just yet.

PRO MMA: How much potential does Shaq show in MMA?
Ryan Keenan: The sky is the limit for Shaq. He is a world class athlete, he learns fast and improves every day. Plus he’s 7’2 300 pounds so that definitely helps out a little bit.

PRO MMA: Your nickname is “Who Dat”. How did you come up with that name?
Ryan Keenan: A few of my buddies from Ohio started calling me Who Dat because of a song we use to listen to when we were younger. For my first fight all of my buddies were in town so I used the nickname “Who Dat” and walked out to that song. And then I was training for my second fight and Shaq came in to train and was watching me spar and asked my trainer Jon Burke hey who dat, wanting to know who I was and Jon responded with that’s Who Dat! Ever since then it just kinda stuck.

PRO MMA: What can fans expect to see when they watch you fight?
Ryan Keenan: Fireworks! Be ready for anything and everything. I train hard and I come to fight, so as soon as the bell rings stand up out of your seat because it’s gonna be a show.

PRO MMA: You played college football at division three Mount Union college in Ohio. Do you ever miss playing and did you ever try to play Pro football?
Ryan Keenan: I do miss football and I miss the team aspect of the sport but nothing compares to being in a cage with just you and another guy. Only one person walks out a winner and there is no one else to blame anything on but yourself.

PRO MMA: How can fans find out more about you and The 6 Levels Orlando?
Ryan Keenan: You can check us out at our new interactive website, the6levels.com. I do the MMA blogs. Also check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

PRO MMA: Ryan thanks for taking time out to talk with PRO MMA (promma.info). Is there any shout outs or thank you’s you would like to give?
Ryan Keenan: I would love to give a shout out to my team at The 6 Levels Orlando. All my coaches, Jon, Rob, Nick, Luis. Everybody at Gracie Tampa and the MMA Lab and all my family and friends in Florida and back home in Toronto, Ohio.

PRO MMA: Thanks Ryan hope to talk to you again soon.
Ryan Keenan: Thank you for everything.

By: Dusty Adams

Here is a video of Ryan Keenan in his second professional bout. The fight took place at Real Fighting Championships’ “RFC 13: Title Bound” in July 2008. His opponent was Robert Orta.

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