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‘I’ll Bring Lots Of Surprises’ – Uali Kurzhev Hopes Sambo Skills Can Propel Him Past Kade Ruotolo

Oct 17, 2022
Uali Kurzhev

Uali Kurzhev has the chance to elevate his name alongside the world’s best grapplers on Friday, October 21. 

The four-time Sambo World Champion takes on Kade Ruotolo for the inaugural ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Title at ONE on Prime Video 3: Lineker vs. Andrade, and he can’t wait for the chance to compete against one of the sport’s hottest stars. 

This past September, Ruotolo became the youngest athlete in history to win the prestigious ADCC World Championship.

Although the 33-year-old Russian is aware of the tough test ahead, he has a massive opportunity to announce himself to ONE’s global fan base at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — if he defeats the grappling great.

He said:

“I have mixed feelings right now because I’m still not a [BJJ] champion first of all. Secondly, it’s my second match in submission grappling [under] different rules, but I’m so excited for this event and to have a chance to [compete against] Kade.”

Given Ruotolo’s recent success, the American prodigy has made plenty of headlines ahead of this contest.

However, Kurzhev isn’t impressed by the fanfare that his opponent has received, nor is he impressed by the attention that Ruotolo’s name brings to the encounter. Instead, the Kurzhev School athlete is focused on what he brings to the table and how he can make his mark on October 21.

He said:

“I don’t think I’ve been overlooked. I’ve been in sambo for the last 27 years. I have a lot of experience. I’m sure he’s never experienced such an opponent in his background because he specializes more in submission grappling. I’ll bring lots of surprises to this match.

“I understand the pressure and the audience, but again I’ve been in the sport for a long time. I have formulated methods to avoid those feelings. I’m clearly ready for this.”

Uali Kurzhev Wants To Thrust Sambo Into The Global Spotlight

Uali Kurzhev and Kade Ruotolo will bring two different styles to the Circle come fight night, which makes this submission grappling bout all the more interesting.

Kurzhev has won multiple Sambo World Titles and important accolades in judo, while BJJ black belt Ruotolo has achieved a massive amount in his own domain.

However, the 33-year-old Russian doesn’t want to pit the sports of sambo and BJJ head-to-head. After all, he believes both are first-rate martial arts, albeit with some minor differences.

Kurzhev said:

“I don’t feel [any pressure to prove sambo is better]. I respect all the sports and BJJ is one of them. Both sports are incredible. 

“When it comes to sambo, there’s a harmony where you’re standing as well as being on the ground to grapple. But in jiu-jitsu, it’s more on the ground. That’s the difference, I guess, and that’s their [advantages].”

Still, Kurzhev knows that this fight will give him the opportunity to bring the Russian-centric grappling art to a wider audience, but only if he can overcome one of the biggest names in BJJ.

If he can showcase the strength of his skill set against an elite rival like Ruotolo, he can help other sambo advocates carve their own paths onto the global stage.

He said:

“I would love to bring this belt home and increase the number of fighters with a sambo background [on the world stage].”

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