‘A Very Beautiful Jiu-Jitsu Match’ – Tommy Langaker Previews World Title Challenge Of Kade Ruotolo

Tommy Langaker stands in the Circle at ONE 160

On June 9, Lumpinee Boxing Stadium will play host to a massively important showdown between two of the biggest names in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

In the co-main event of ONE Fight Night 11: Eersel vs. Menshikov on Prime Video, Norwegian star Tommy Langaker will take on 20-year-old prodigy Kade Ruotolo for his ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Title live in U.S. primetime.

While the Californian is widely regarded as the planet’s top pound-for-pound grappler, he’ll face his stiffest test yet in the form of Langaker, who owns an undefeated record in ONE and has long been considered Europe’s top male BJJ black belt practitioner.

With both men firmly established atop the sport, fans are looking forward to a high-paced clash between truly elite technicians in Bangkok, Thailand.

For his part, the 29-year-old challenger anticipates a few slow moments at the start of the match – followed by explosive back-and-forth action:

“I think it’s going to be tense in the beginning. I think it’s going to be a little bit of feeling out, but immediately as somebody reacts, it’s going to be a very high pace. And I think it’s going to be a very beautiful jiu-jitsu match.”

Both athletes are known for their aggressive and entertaining styles of grappling that place a premium on hunting for submissions rather than winning narrow decisions.

And in this battle between two of the world’s best scramblers, Langaker believes he will come out on top.

Specifically, he says his experience in the crab ride – a position in which one grappler takes the other’s back by hooking his feet behind his knees – will make the difference against Ruotolo:

“I think my advantages are that I thrive in those scrambles. I love when the scramble comes, and I think I have a different understanding of how the scramble and the leg pummel work, as I’ve been doing crab rides for so long. I enjoy working hooks and utilizing these different positions, and I feel that’s going to be my biggest strength.”

In his most recent outing, the Norwegian impressed fans with a heel hook submission of Sambo World Champion Uali Kurzhev, finishing him in less time than Ruotolo did a few months prior.

That also marked the first heel hook victory of Langaker’s accomplished career, as he competed exclusively in the gi for years and is still developing his full game in no-gi, which allows for twisting leg locks like the heel hook.

Still, he’ll be more than happy to exchange leg locks with the defending titleholder and is confident in his attacks no matter where the match goes:

“I’ll fight in any position. I’ll take what I have. I’ll see how he reacts, and then I go from there. If he gives me his leg, I’ll take his leg. If he gives me his back, I’ll take the back.”

Langaker Says ONE Is ‘Changing The Scene’ Of Professional BJJ

Tommy Langaker earned his World Title shot against Kade Ruotolo on the back of two sensational victories in ONE, earning a US$50,000 bonus for each performance.

At ONE 160, he secured a decision win over BJJ World Champion Renato Canuto – perhaps the most electrifying submission grappling match ever seen in ONE. Then at ONE Fight Night 7, he took out Uali Kurzhev by heel hook.

Langaker says the bonuses have been life-altering money. But beyond those paydays, he believes ONE is elevating the sport of grappling to new heights by showcasing it on a global platform.

He added:

“ONE is changing it by putting us on a very professional platform with other various martial arts. They’re showing that they trust us and put trust in their athletes. They’re paying us well and giving us bonuses if we’re doing entertaining fights. Giving us good exposure. It’s changing the scene of what a professional jiu-jitsu athlete is.”

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