Tye Ruotolo was handed the difficult task of facing multiple-time BJJ World Champion Garry Tonon in a lightweight submission grappling match at ONE 157: Petchmorakot vs. Vienot inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium last Friday, 20 May.
Squaring off against such an experienced opponent in his promotional debut could have been overwhelming for the young Californian. But he embraced the challenge with the calm demeanor of a seasoned veteran – and the result spoke for itself.
Ruotolo only needed 97 seconds to finish Tonon. He took his American compatriot to the mat and then secured his trademark D’Arce choke to force the tap.
The quick finish was the fastest victory in ONE Championship’s submission grappling history, and the 19-year-old's stellar performance earned him a US$50,000 bonus from ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong.
“I don't think it could have gone any better for sure. Definitely, a really good guy to get a submission win over like that. Garry's a legend in the sport. So to get the D'Arce over him in that amount of time, I'm super, super, super stoked, on the moon for sure,” Ruotolo said in his post-fight interview.
Now that he has his first win on the global stage under his belt, fans are wondering what is next for the teen star. He could stay in submission grappling and take on ONE’s growing roster of submission wizards, or he could branch out and look for a new challenge.
According to Ruotolo, he'd be happy with the former, but he ultimately has his heart set on the latter.
“If [Tonon] wants to run it back, you know, I'd be down. But I'm looking for more different opponents. Now, I want to keep climbing the ranks fighting, you know, the best possible guys I possibly can,” he said.
“My goal in jiu-jitsu was to keep being the best version of myself and to just get to the title in jiu-jitsu. To get to the title in MMA is what my brother [Kade, who also debuted at ONE 157 with a win over Shinya Aoki] and I want to do as well. So we got a lot of goals right now.”
If the Atos Jiu-Jitsu standout wants to pursue MMA, he’ll have a whole crop of intriguing opponents in the lightweight division.
And though Tonon traditionally competes in a lower weight class, where he is currently the #4-ranked featherweight contender, Ruotolo is also interested in rematching his countryman with the 4-ounce gloves.
“I think after my performance tonight, I kind of deserve it. And in jiu-jitsu, I proved that I'm better than him in the most humble way possible. And I think that my hands are better than his, too, if I'm being realistic. So I would love to fight him in MMA,” Ruotolo said.
Download the ONE Super App to catch all the action at ONE 158: Tawanchai vs. Larsen on Friday, 3 June, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.