Kade Ruotolo Is ONE’s 2022 Submission Grappling Athlete Of The Year

Kade Ruotolo after his match against Matheus Gabriel at ONE on Prime Video 5

At just 19 years old, Kade Ruotolo already sits comfortably atop the grappling world, thanks in large part to his trio of thrilling matches inside the ONE Championship Circle.

Undefeated since he earned his BJJ black belt in late 2021, the American prodigy seemed destined for greatness from an early age, but he truly capitalized on that potential in 2022.

And after an incredible 12 months – that saw him become the ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Champion, as well as the youngest ADCC World Champion in history – Ruotolo is officially ONE’s 2022 Submission Grappling Athlete of the Year.

Ever since his promotional debut, Ruotolo’s ultra-aggressive, submission-hunting style has endeared him to ONE’s global fan base, as he led the way for submission grappling’s rapid expansion within the organization.

The Californian made his first appearance at ONE 157 in May, where he scored a dominant unanimous decision victory over Japanese MMA icon and former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya Aoki.

While Ruotolo didn’t secure the submission, fans were nonetheless treated to a dazzling display of the young phenom’s talents, from jumping off the Circle Wall to taking Aoki’s back, to even attempting a unique buggy choke from the closed guard.

Then at ONE on Prime Video 3 in October – just one month after Ruotolo became the youngest-ever ADCC World Champion with a 100 percent submission rate – he faced four-time Sambo World Champion Uali Kurzhev for the inaugural ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Title.

The BJJ superstar extended his winning streak and showed fans why he’s the most dangerous submission stylist on the planet, needing just over four minutes to score a brutal, joint-snapping heel hook on the Russian.

That victory earned Ruotolo 26 pounds of gold, a spot in the history books, and a US$50,000 performance bonus.

Finally, at ONE on Prime Video 5 in December, Ruotolo became the first athlete to defend a ONE Submission Grappling World Title when he squared off with multiple-time IBJJF World Champion Matheus Gabriel.

In one of the year’s most high-paced grappling matches, the reigning king proved that he is not just an aggressive submission hunter, but also a supreme technician. The teen star constantly forced Gabriel on the defensive with relentless guard passing and explosive submission attempts.

Ultimately, the Californian was awarded the clear-cut decision to retain his World Title and cap a sensational year of competition.

Overall, Ruotolo is doing things never before seen in BJJ or submission grappling, and he’s doing it all before turning 20 years old.

In 2022, the rising superstar went undefeated against the elite of the elite, bringing the ever-growing sport to new heights while setting the stage for more high-stakes showdowns in 2023.

ONE’s 2022 Submission Grappler Of The Year Honorable Mentions

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