Kade Ruotolo Explains ‘Tension’ With Tommy Langaker Ahead Of World Title Defense At ONE Fight Night 11

Kade Ruotolo is declared winner against Matheus Gabriel at ONE on Prime Video 5

Over the past year, Kade Ruotolo has gone from a highly touted BJJ prodigy to one of the most sought-after athletes in combat sports.

The reigning ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World World Champion also has no shortage of dangerous contenders looking to challenge him for the divisional gold. And on June 9, he’ll face an elite rival in the co-main event of ONE Fight Night 11: Eersel vs. Menshikov on Prime Video.

That evening in U.S. primetime, the 20-year-old American will defend his crown against Norwegian star Tommy Langaker at the iconic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

It’s just the latest high-profile matchup for Ruotolo, who’s noticing a bigger target on his back after claiming two of the most prestigious trophies in grappling during 2022.

He explained:

“I’m starting to secure some of the most important titles in jiu-jitsu. ONE Championship, ADCC, and so on. Everybody wants those titles. They want to take them from me. So I feel a bit more of the hunted now rather than the hunter.”

Despite his meteoric rise, Ruotolo doesn’t feel intimidated by his new role at the apex of the sport. He never shied away from a challenge on his way up, and that mindset won’t change now that he’s sitting atop the pile.

So, while the Atos representative knows that Langaker is a formidable foe, he welcomes the threat and feels confident that he can neutralize it.

He said:

“Tommy is an amazing opponent. He’s very strong and flexible, which are two things that are difficult to deal with when put together.

“He looked great in his match against Renato Canuto, who’s a very high-level competitor. He has some big wins under his belt. He’s going to be a tough person to take out. But I think if anyone can do it, it’s going to be me.

“I definitely respect his skills as an athlete, and I know he’s dangerous, but I don’t think there’s any way in this world that he submits me or puts me away. I think I’m going to be able to get the submission or put on a dominant performance for sure.”

Ruotolo: ‘I Just Want To Submit Him Really Bad’

While Kade Ruotolo is full of respect for Tommy Langaker as a competitor, he recently revealed a backstory that’s added a little fire to their ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Title fight on June 9.

The pair had a bit of an altercation after Ruotolo won gold at the 2022 ADCC World Championships, and the usually laidback American admits that it took their budding rivalry to a new level.

He recalled:

“At the ADCC afterparty, it was getting a little crazy. [Langaker] came up to me and he was like, ‘When are we going to fight?’ We exchanged some words. And then, long story short, I just body-locked him, and I picked him up in the air. 

“I was like, ‘I could slam you right now. You’re lucky I won’t.’ I told him, ‘I promise you, when I fight you, I’m going to submit you.’ So now I’ve got to submit him.

“It was pretty funny. We messaged each other afterward. It was all good, but it just kind of created a little bit of tension.”

Unlike some of the other big names in submission grappling, Ruotolo isn’t known for picking fights and starting feuds with his peers, but he does feel a difference now that there’s some history with Langaker.

It’s not animosity, but there’s extra urgency to get the job done and show other potential challengers that calling him out is never a good idea.

The Californian added:

“I think having an opponent that you have a little bit of tension with just excites me more than anything. I just want to submit him really bad. From the second I step foot in there, I’m going to be very, very physical until I get that submission.”

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