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Danielle Kelly Impressed With Kade Ruotolo; Weighs In On BJJ Vs. Sambo Debate

Oct 15, 2022
Danielle Kelly makes the walk to the Circle at ONE X: Part I

ONE Championship star and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Danielle Kelly keeps a watchful eye on the grappling arts.

That includes BJJ phenom Kade Ruotolo, who recently earned a historic gold at the prestigious ADCC World Championships and will challenge for the inaugural ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Title at ONE on Prime Video 3 on Friday, October 21.

Not only did the 19-year-old Ruotolo become the youngest champion in ADCC history, but he did so in style, submitting each of his four world-class opponents.

And for her part, Kelly sees something special in the young star.

She told ONEFC.com:

“[Kade is] putting jiu-jitsu and people his age on the map. It’s pretty impressive. I think he’s on a roll. I’ve been watching him come up, he was losing and then he started to win. He went against my teammate, or old teammates, and won matches. It’s really cool to see his development, coming up over the past year or two.”

Danielle Kelly Backs BJJ Over Sambo

Danielle Kelly is looking forward to watching Kade Ruotolo’s matchup with Sambo World Champion Uali Kurzhev for the ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Title.

Both competitors are elite in their chosen discipline, and Kelly is intrigued to see how that stylistic clash will play out.

She said:

“It’s an interesting matchup, sambo versus jiu-jitsu, and in the cage. I think it’s a pretty cool matchup.”

While Kelly specializes in jiu-jitsu, she also has some experience in sambo and understands how it’s both similar and different.

And after an impressive performance against MMA legend Mei Yamaguchi in her ONE Championship submission grappling debut earlier this year, the BJJ sensation could soon find herself in a World Title match against a sambo stylist.

She explained her respect for the Russian martial art:

“I competed in a few sambo tournaments. So the rules are kind of weird, but I think when I was starting to do sambo tournaments, I was focused on the leg locking because I want to just work on that when it started to become popular. 

“I feel like they get a submission or they get an arm or leg on you, you would have to be really intelligent and actually know what you’re doing when you’re trying to get out of submission. We can’t just let them take an arm or a leg, or they’re going to break it.”

While she appreciates what sambo athletes bring to the table, Kelly is still a torchbearer for jiu-jitsu.

And as ONE Championship continues to schedule more BJJ versus sambo submission grappling matches, the American is confidently siding with her martial art.

She added:

“I think the best jiu-jitsu guy, I think they can put [ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Champion] Mikey [Musumeci], or me, or Kade. I think Kade’s going to beat them.”

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