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Kade Ruotolo Details Transition From BJJ To MMA To Demetrious Johnson

Kade Ruotolo
Black Belt Plus

Already at the top of the grappling world, Kade Ruotolo will try to take that success to the MMA ranks on Friday, June 7, at ONE 167: Tawanchai vs. Nattawut II.

Ahead of his debut, the ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Champion spoke to MMA great Demetrious Johnson on his podcast, “Mightycast”.

“We’ve grown up watching MMA. Even though I knew I had to do what I had to do in jiu-jitsu first, it always excited me that one day I was gonna be there,” Ruotolo told Johnson.

“I knew for sure. It was a bucket list thing. I had to fight MMA.”

For his debut, Ruotolo will meet Blake Cooper. The Hawaiian has a solid all-around skill set and hopes to steal the thunder of the world-renowned grappling in Bangkok.

The challenge of transitioning over has the lightweight star excited for what will come.

“As of the last couple of years, that urge has been growing more and more,” the Southern Californian stated.

“I honestly think I fought so many times for free with my brother. I wanna get paid now! I love fighting, I’m a fighter. I love jiu-jitsu, but I just don’t feel like it’s a fight. It’s a match, it’s not a fight.”

“I’m so excited to show what I can do in MMA. In the most humble way possible, I genuinely believe that MMA hasn’t had my level of grappling and my level of jiu-jitsu ever.”

One of the most exhilarating parts for Ruotolo is the pursuit of knowledge. Although there is always something new to learn in BJJ, he is at the top of the food chain. MMA offers a clean slate.

Ruotolo is getting comfortable on his feet and slowly building his complete arsenal.

“Every time I train MMA, I’m learning something new, and it’s refreshing being a student again,” Ruotolo commented.

“I like to think the transition is going well. I think the main thing is I feel comfortable in my sparring rounds and live drills. I’m not very fearful, I have a lot of heart, I’m not scared of a lot of things. My coach and my family are happy with the progress.”

As he prepared for ONE 167, Ruotolo noticed the differences between BJJ and MMA, specifically with his cardio.

Different sports have different requirements. As he begins his MMA journey, Ruotolo is looking to show that hard work pays off with a dominant MMA debut over a tough opponent. It will be all-gas, no brakes at the Impact Arena.

“The hardest thing was the cardio on my legs. It’s the last thing you expect. I can go all day in jiu-jitsu. The hopping is different. The calf muscles. It was something I didn’t have built up in jiu-jitsu. The cardio for the footwork was one of the biggest shockers,” Ruotolo said.

“I felt cardio-wise I could go another 100 rounds, but my calves were just tired before everything else!”

ONE 167 airs live and free on Prime Video at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Friday, June 7. The event is free for all Amazon Prime subscribers based in the U.S. and Canada.

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