3 Submission Grappling Battles We Want To See In 2023
In 2022, ONE Championship rapidly expanded its submission grappling divisions and brought the world’s best competitors to the global stage.
With the addition of two new ONE Submission Grappling World Titles and a number of elite grapplers, there has never been a better time to be a part of the ever-growing sport.
As we look ahead to another action-packed year in 2023, the world’s top submission specialists will continue to flock to ONE Championship, making for a multitude of intriguing battles.
That said, here are three massive submission grappling matches that could happen in the coming year.
#1 Kade Ruotolo Vs. Tommy Langaker
Teenage BJJ prodigy Kade Ruotolo ripped through the competition in 2022, and he looks to extend his run of dominance well into 2023.
The 19-year-old California native, who is undefeated as a black belt, became the youngest-ever ADCC World Champion this past September, and then he successfully captured and defended the ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Title to close out a landmark year.
After his most recent appearance in the Circle – a thrilling decision win over Matheus Gabriel at ONE on Prime Video 5 – Ruotolo called for a match against fellow BJJ black belt Tommy Langaker.
Long considered Europe’s top male grappler, Langaker made his promotional debut at ONE 160 with an electrifying victory over Renato Canuto. The win introduced the 28-year-old and his ultra-aggressive yet supremely technical brand of BJJ to fans worldwide, leaving them anxiously awaiting his next appearance.
A matchup between Ruotolo and Langaker makes plenty of sense. Not only is it a clash between two of submission grappling’s most high-paced and entertaining athletes, but it’s also the logical next step for the teen star as he searches for the best, most credible challenger to his throne.
#2 Danielle Kelly Vs. Angela Lee
BJJ superstar Danielle Kelly and reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee have been eyeing each other for some time, and an animosity-filled submission grappling showdown between the two black belts could come to fruition in 2023.
First, Kelly is set to face judo specialist Ayaka Miura at ONE on Prime Video 7 in February. But win or lose, MMA’s atomweight queen could be waiting in the wings for a chance to share the Circle with the Philadelphia-bred phenom.
Kelly is undefeated in ONE Championship with a pair of bonus-winning performances, and she has firmly established herself as one of the world’s most dangerous submission hunters.
Lee, meanwhile, is arguably MMA’s top female grappler with an incredible 73 percent submission rate across her 11 career victories.
Importantly, neither woman has been shy about wanting to face the other. The Singaporean-American maintains that she’d be able to submit her surging rival, while the Philly native believes that the atomweight queen would be an “easy” battle.
In short, this is a grudge match that needs to be settled in 2023.
#3 Tye Ruotolo Vs. Reinier De Ridder
In another BJJ vs. MMA clash, Tye Ruotolo could square off against current ONE Middleweight World Champion Reinier de Ridder.
Much like his twin brother Kade, Tye is a relentlessly aggressive competitor known for the furious pace he puts on his opponents. He, too, is undefeated inside the Circle with back-to-back submission finishes over world-class opposition.
Conversely, De Ridder is a BJJ and judo black belt who is widely considered to be the top ground fighter in MMA. At ONE X in March, “The Dutch Knight” showed off his grappling prowess when he battled all-time jiu-jitsu great Andre Galvao – the man who awarded the Ruotolo brothers their black belts – to a draw.
After his most recent performance, the teen star called for a match against De Ridder, and there’s no reason why that epic meeting of elite grapplers can’t go down in the coming year.