Anatoly Malykhin Expects Big Things From Kade Ruotolo And Adrian Lee In Their Pro MMA Debuts At ONE 167

Kade Ruotolo Francisco Lo ONE Fight Night 21 60

Anatoly “Sladkiy” Malykhin has high expectations for Kade Ruotolo’s move from submission grappling to mixed martial arts at ONE 167: Tawanchai vs. Nattawut II on Prime Video

The historic three-division MMA World Champion knows what it takes to succeed at the highest level, and he sees that potential in the American BJJ phenom ahead of his debut in the all-around sport this Friday, June 7. 

Ruotolo – the reigning ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Champion – will take on Blake Cooper in his first-ever professional MMA battle at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand. 

Malykhin thinks this a great move for the 21-year-old superstar, and he believes it could be the start of something special. 

“Sladkiy” spoke to onefc.com ahead of Friday’s U.S. primetime event: 

“I’m happy that Kade is seeking new challenges because no one can compete with him in grappling, and he wants to test himself in MMA. I’ll be excited to watch his fight, cheering for him, and worried about him.  

“It’s a good step for him to improve. I think he has what it takes to be a champion. I expect him to have his hand raised in his debut.” 

Despite his relatively young age, Ruotolo has been immersed in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for 18 years and is widely considered one of the top ground fighters on the planet.

For his part, Malykhin also started out as a grappler with a freestyle wrestling pedigree. And while he now prefers to knock out opponents, the Russian thinks Ruotolo will be better served leaning on his world-class submission skills rather than trying to prove a point in his first outing. 

Malykhin said: 

“I don’t think Kade needs to rely heavily on striking right away in his first fight. He needs to win and gain confidence by doing what he does best. I would definitely wrestle if I was in his place, just like I did in my early fights.  

“As his striking skills improve, he can try his hand at striking with other grapplers. But you also have to consider the opposition. If the opponent is a striker, then you need to wrestle. If the opponent is a wrestler, then you can try your striking skills.” 

Malykhin Says ‘Great Genes’ Will Help Lee In ONE Debut 

Adrian “The Phenom” Lee is another athlete set to make his professional MMA debut at ONE 167.

The Singaporean-American will face Antonio Mammarella in a lightweight contest, and given his lineage of ONE MMA World Champion older siblings – Christian “The Warrior” Lee and “Unstoppable” Angela Lee – the combat sports world is eagerly anticipating this contest.

While that could put a lot of pressure on the 18-year-old’s shoulders, Malykhin says the support network around Lee should put him in a position to succeed: 

“How Adrian handles the pressure is a question for him. I think he’s a professional and has great genes, with so many champions in his family. I believe he knows how to handle it. His family knows how to handle it.” 

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