Kade Ruotolo Targets MMA Debut ‘This Year’ After Latest Submission Grappling World Title Defense

Kade Ruotolo Tommy Langaker ONE Fight Night 11 32

Last Friday, reigning ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Champion Kade Ruotolo faced his toughest test yet in the form of Norwegian BJJ sensation Tommy Langaker at ONE Fight Night 11 on Prime Video at Lumpinee Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

But after 10 minutes of furious back-and-forth action, the 20-year-old phenom secured the unanimous decision victory, scoring the second successful defense of his gold and extending his unbeaten record as a black belt.

Ruotolo is quick to credit Langaker, who was able to threaten with a deep heel hook attempt early in the match, sending the World Champion rolling across the ring in defense.

But after that first submission attempt, the American prodigy turned up the heat with relentless guard passing, a brutal leg lock of his own, and several close looks at his opponent’s back.

After the bout, Ruotolo said he believed his attacks were adding up – and that he was on the cusp of adding another submission finish to his impressive resume:

“Yeah, it was definitely a tough scrap for sure. Tommy was an amazing opponent. I knew he’d be a tough match leading into this. I think in a couple of more minutes, I definitely would have had him. I felt him really fading at the end, getting really tired.”

Even though he may have been gaining the upper hand in the battles for position, the lightweight submission grappling kingpin wasn’t satisfied to win by decision.

A finish, he said, is always the primary goal:

“Anytime I don’t get to submission, I can’t lie, I’m a little disappointed with myself.”

Ultimately, although he earned a clear-cut decision over Europe’s top BJJ competitor, Ruotolo doesn’t think he performed to his full potential. Despite top-notch defense from Langaker, he expects more from himself.

That’s a scary proposition for any of the Californian’s future opponents because he’s now even more determined to find the finish in his next submission grappling showdown.

The Atos representative said:

“[Langaker[ was doing a good job, not really showing me too many under hooks and staying pretty safe there. Then I started looking more for counter-attacks, things like that. No excuses. Like I said, I didn’t feel like my 100 percent self out there. I feel like I honestly felt at 50 percent of my capabilities and I definitely got to come back a bit stronger, for sure.”

Ruotolo On MMA Debut: ‘If It Was Up To Me, It Would Be Next Month’

After competing in front of a raucous Thai crowd in a historic arena, Kade Ruotolo is pumped to return.

But the next time he steps foot inside the building, he hopes to be lacing up 4-ounce gloves and entertaining fans in the all-around sport of mixed martial arts.

Ruotolo said:

“The energy was pretty nuts. I love the venue. Honestly, it’s got to be one of my favorite venues that I’ve ever been to, iconic. And hopefully, the next time I step into this arena, it’ll be maybe for some MMA. I’m super excited and hopefully, we can mix it up and you know, really get the crowd on their feet.”

Already an ADCC World Champion, the ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Champion, and widely regarded as the planet’s top pound-for-pound ground fighter, Ruotolo is chomping at the bit to try his hand at MMA.

That transition can’t come soon enough, he says:

“I want it to be this year, no matter what. Hopefully, in the near future. Like I said many times, if it was up to me, it would be next month.”

While he’s earned his reputation by competing in “the gentle art,” Ruotolo has never been one to shy away from a fight – a scrappy, fearless mindset that should serve him well in MMA.

The young superstar doesn’t yet have any particular opponents in mind for his debut, but one thing is certain – he wants someone who’s excited to square off in a heated, action-packed affair.

He added:

“As I said before, that’s always what motivates me. It’s whoever wants to fight me, especially, when there’s a bit of tension as someone comes at me with, ‘I want Kade Ruotolo.’ Then I’m like, let’s get it. That’s the one that I want.”

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