Where We Stand In ONE’s Sambo Vs. BJJ Rivalry In Submission Grappling

Danielle Kelly faces Mariia Molchanova

In 2022, ONE Championship rapidly expanded its submission grappling divisions, giving the world’s best ground fighters a global platform to showcase their talents. 

Notably, the promotion signed both elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitors and Sambo World Champions, setting the stage for battles between the two grappling-based martial arts.

That battle is being settled inside the Circle, and BJJ currently holds a commanding 3-0 lead across a trio of thrilling submission-only encounters.

Let’s look back at how the rivalry between jiu-jitsu and sambo has fared so far.

Rodrigo Marello vs. Ruslan Bagdasarian

The first matchup took place in September at ONE 161, as BJJ black belt Rodrigo Marello squared off with top international sambo competitor Ruslan Bagdasarian.

Their unique meeting of styles intrigued grappling fans around the globe, but that speculation lasted much longer than the contest itself.

Ultimately, the Brazilian needed just 15 seconds to secure a bone-breaking ankle lock on Bagdasarian, setting a ONE Championship record for the fastest-ever finish in a submission grappling match.

With his lightning-quick victory, Marello kicked off the rivalry in style, scoring an impressive first point over sambo.

Kade Ruotolo vs. Uali Kurzhev

The stakes were raised in the next chapter of the race for grappling supremacy. 

This past October in the co-main event of ONE on Prime Video 3, teenage BJJ prodigy Kade Ruotolo took on four-time Sambo World Champion Uali Kurzhev for the inaugural ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Title.

Fresh off his sensational gold-medal run at the prestigious ADCC World Championships, Ruotolo came into the showdown as a heavy favorite.

And while Kurzhev opened the match with a successful footsweep, the rest of the contest was one-way traffic in favor of the Californian. Ruotolo consistently achieved dominant positions that forced his opponent onto the defensive.

The finish came just before the halfway point of the 10-minute affair, as the BJJ standout secured a brutal heel hook to capture the new World Title and leave his opponent limping out of the Circle.

Danielle Kelly vs. Mariia Molchanova

Most recently at ONE on Prime Video 4, American sensation Danielle Kelly faced Sambo World Champion Mariia Molchanova.

BJJ would once again prove to be superior, as Kelly – an accomplished black belt under Karel Pravec – hardly broke a sweat in her dismantling of the Russian.

In just a matter of seconds, Kelly deftly took Molchanova’s back and threatened a submission before the sambo player could mount a single offensive move.

And just two minutes later, the jiu-jitsu star sunk in a rear-naked choke to force the tap, earning herself a US$50,000 performance bonus while giving her discipline a clean sweep over sambo in this trio of submission grappling battles.

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