‘A Great Opportunity’ – Teen Prodigy Jozef Chen Excited To Test Himself Against Tye Ruotolo At ONE Fight Night 23

Jozef Chen

Young phenom Jozef Chen is one of the fastest-rising stars ever seen in the sport of submission grappling, and at ONE Fight Night 23: Ok vs. Rasulov on Prime Video, he’ll make his hotly anticipated debut in the world’s largest martial arts organization.

This Friday in U.S. primetime, the 19-year-old will collide with current ONE Welterweight Submission Grappling World Champion Tye Ruotolo in a 186-pound non-title tilt that has the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world buzzing with excitement.

A true savant of the grappling arts, Chen has been training for just under six years but has already established himself as an elite talent, boasting victories over some of BJJ’s biggest names, including two-time ONE World Title challenger Tommy Langaker.

Part of what makes Chen so special is his cerebral approach to competition.

Rather than focusing on the match outcomes or the fame that could come with a victory in his ONE debut, he’s simply looking forward to testing his skills against one of the world’s best.

Moreover, the South African knows that his showdown with the 21-year-old Ruotolo likely won’t be the last time the two young prodigies meet.

Chen told onefc.com:

“I have a good idea of what he’s going to do. But, I mean, the best way to test out a lot of these ideas on what may work or may not work is actually having the match.

“I mean, he’s very young. I think he’s a bit older than me, but I assume in our careers, it won’t be the only time we cross paths. So I think it’s a great opportunity for me to test a lot of the stuff I’ve been working on.”

Both Chen and Ruotolo epitomize modern, well-rounded grappling. They’re both able to attack from any position, excel in advanced leg-lock techniques, possess top-tier takedowns, and are masters at taking the back.

However, they grapple in distinctly different ways. While the Californian is a buzzsaw of activity and a uniquely creative submission artist, Chen tends to be more methodical and control-oriented on his way to the submission.

The difference, Chen says, is likely due to their gap in experience, with Ruotolo relying on his instincts honed over a lifetime of training:

“I think his style comes as a result of how long he’s trained and kind of the upbringing in jiu-jitsu he’s had. I’m coming up on six years in jiu-jitsu, so I wouldn’t say I have as much intuition with what I necessarily need to do, and so that kind of manifests itself into what could be perceived as a methodical, slower approach.

“Whereas I feel like, since he’s been training for so long, he has a very good idea of what he wants to do in certain positions. So that’s where a lot of this more intuition and dynamic movement really comes into play.”

Despite the difference in experience, make no mistake – Chen is a world-class competitor who’s plenty capable of handing Ruotolo his first defeat in ONE.

The B-Team representative has already scored a number of impressive victories over the past several months, taking out some of the sport’s most respected black belts.

Notably, he’s showcased a seemingly unstoppable guard-passing game, even passing the vaunted open guard of Langaker – something Ruotolo’s twin brother, ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Champion Kade Ruotolo, was unable to do across 20 minutes of battle with the Norwegian.

Given his guard-passing game, it’s no surprise that Chen sees gaining top position as a key to his victory at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok:

“My idea is definitely to try and test a lot of the skills that I’m trying to work on. So standing position is definitely one that I’m going to try to see what works, see what doesn’t, and try to play from that.

“Because if I can get to top position on top of Tye, it’ll be very winning from there. Just generally, you see him want to do his best work from top. So being able to put him in bottom, I think this will be a good strategy for me if I’m able to do that.”

Chen Praises Ruotolo Ahead Of Matchup In Bangkok

Modest and soft-spoken, Jozef Chen has nothing but praise for Tye Ruotolo ahead of ONE Fight Night 23.

Even though the American is just 21 years old, Chen recalls looking up to him during his early years in BJJ:

“Tye is definitely one of the more exciting and one of the more well-accomplished grapplers in the sport.

“So, especially for me, outside of how good he is and the level that he’s on, I think one of the things that makes it exciting for me is that I’ve been watching him for, man, since I was a yellow, orange belt. So being able to compete against him, it’s a very cool experience.”

The South African doesn’t talk much about his meteoric rise to the highest levels of grappling, but it’s an unprecedented accomplishment nonetheless.

When pushed, Chen admits that his ascent to the global stage and now facing a pound-for-pound great is something remarkable:

“I’m very proud to be able to compete at this level at this point. I think it’s very cool, because, generally, for me, jiu-jitsu, I wanna have very good jiu-jitsu. The competition is more secondary to my jiu-jitsu. Being able to compete and display my jiu-jitsu, that’s what really makes me happy.

“It’s very awesome to be able to compete against someone that you looked up to for so long.”

Still, Chen won’t be starstruck when he finally shares the ring with Ruotolo.

After all, he’s quick to point out that he’s spent the past couple of years training with and competing against other top-tier stars:

“It’s not the first time. You know, when I first came to the U.S., like two years ago, and then just having trained with and competed with so many people that I’ve studied a lot … you know, it’s not a new experience to me.”

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