‘I’ve Been A Lot More Focused’ – Kade Ruotolo Vows To Submit Tommy Langaker In Rematch At ONE 165

Kade Ruotolo Tommy Langaker ONE Fight Night 11 33

Reigning ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Champion Kade Ruotolo still feels like he has unfinished business with former foe and soon-to-be World Title challenger Tommy Langaker.

This Sunday, January 28, the elite BJJ black belts will clash in a rematch of ONE’s best submission grappling fight of 2023 when they meet in the co-main event of ONE 165: Superlek vs. Takeru.

Set to go down at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan, that contest will come seven months after the American titleholder earned a close and competitive decision over Langaker to successfully retain his gold.

For his part, Ruotolo says that decision victory didn’t live up to his personal standard of excellence:

“I got the win. However, it wasn’t the way I wanted to win. You know, I would definitely want to get the finish. And that’s pretty much the reason why I’m accepting the rematch this time around because I want to submit him.”

Widely regarded as one of the top submission hunters in his sport, the 20-year-old World Champion boasts a 52 percent finishing rate across his professional career – an astounding statistic for an athlete who competes at the highest level.

But according to Ruotolo, he didn’t go into his first match against Langaker at his best.

That isn’t the case this time around, as the young phenom says he’s left no stone unturned in his training:

“I’m never one to make any excuses, but my last camp was just, you know, nowhere near where I wanted it to be as far as my preparation, due to some outside reasons.

“And this time around, I’ve been a lot more focused, I’ve been a lot more hungry, and it’s going to show.” 

Even though he’s already beaten Langaker once, Ruotolo feels more motivated than ever, like he still has something to prove against his rival.

The lightweight submission grappling kingpin added:

“The next time we fight, I’m going to submit him. I know it’s kind of a simple answer, maybe a bit boring. But to be honest, that’s the honest-to-God truth.

“And everyone that I fight that I don’t submit, I almost take it as just a poor performance, even if I was dominant. If I didn’t get the submission, then I’m not happy.”

Ruotolo Critizes Langaker’s Grappling Style

Kade Ruotolo is confident he can submit Tommy Langaker in their rematch at ONE 165, in large part because he doesn’t think the challenger will bring anything new to the table.

The Norwegian has been active since their first encounter, winning gold at the prestigious IBJJF No-Gi World Championships.

Despite that accomplishment, Ruotolo believes Langaker is essentially the same grappler he defeated last year:

“Tommy pretty much does the same thing every time he steps in that ring. And I think that’s what makes my brother’s [Tye Ruotolo] and my games kind of hard to plan for because we could take the fight in any direction.”

While Langaker might be world-renowned for his dangerous open guard and refined back-takes, Ruotolo isn’t particularly impressed by that one-track approach to grappling.

With that in mind, he criticized the challenger’s style:

“[Langaker] just kind of stays on his back and waits for his opponent to engage, and just clasp on to the legs. And if he doesn’t get that, then he’s kind of like complaining and asking around. And, you know, I’ve never been like that once in my life.”

The Californian says that Langaker’s guard-heavy style might work well against lesser foes who are afraid to engage – but he’s not one of them.

To that end, Ruotolo promised another all-action, high-paced affair on January 28:

“I believe he really does tend to go for the same things, and that’s the K-guard crunch and try to find the back-take off it. You know, there are guys that tend to run from him, he tries to chain it into a back-take, and he’s good at that. 

“However, I’m not going to be fleeing. I’m going to be entering the fire.”

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