Kade Ruotolo was successful in defending his ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Championship at ONE 165 against Tommy Langaker. However, what was not known until after the event was that he was willing to pull double duty.
When Sage Northcutt withdrew due to issues related to his cornermen, Shinya Aoki was left without an opponent. While that slot would be filled by a game John Lineker, Ruotolo was lobbying for his chance to ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong.
“I mean, when I first heard the news, I was a bit rattled. I was a bit rattled, for sure. And yeah, I just felt like I could get the job done and possibly get my grappling match done as well. And, you know, grappling doesn’t have the most damage usually, after the match, right,” Ruotolo said after the event.
“You know, I have so much respect for Shinya. He’s pretty much my hero. He’s such an absolute legend, and he took on such a big risk taking on John Lineker, too, switching up an opponent at the last minute. It’s a lot of pressure on both sides, right?”
“I wouldn’t say I wanted the fight against Shinya so much in particular, but it was more so just to save the show, and I felt it would’ve been amazing to make my MMA debut, and I felt I would have still gotten the job done in my jiu-jitsu.”
Ruotolo’s dominant defense of his throne was another indication that he is ready for the long-awaited transition into MMA.
The Atos BJJ star has been teasing the move for some time, and he will undoubtedly be an immediate threat in the division with his sensational grappling. The American star wants to get his first professional bout before spring is over.
“110 percent this year. And I’m hoping for early or mid this year. I’d really be stoked to get it done by March or May. It’s kind of been like my timeframe. I know it’s coming up really quick, but, you know, my dream is to become the double-champ for ONE Championship – jiu-jitsu and MMA,” Ruotolo admitted.
“I’d like to consider myself as a true martial artist, you know. I don’t think I’ve ever turned down a fight, and I feel like I just love to fight. I feel like within jiu-jitsu, there’s so many rules and I have so many fights out of me, if that makes sense, you know. I’m just excited to show everything I have.”
For his debut, Ruotolo is not eyeing anyone in particular. It is not about the opponent. It is just about proving himself on a global platform and showcasing the ideals of being a martial artist.
“I just want to get my feet in the ring or the Circle, whichever it may be, and I really just want to put on a performance. So, whoever it may be, I just really want to get my toes in the water, and, like I said, my goal is to be a double-champ in ONE Championship – jiu-jitsu and MMA. So whoever is in the way, I’m going to have to get past them,” Ruotolo said.