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Kade Ruotolo targets transition to MMA, wants to fight Shinya Aoki

LockerRoom Team
31 January 2024

At just 21 years old, Kade Ruotolo, the reigning ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Champion, demonstrated his prowess once again at ONE 165, successfully defending his gold against Tommy Langaker in Tokyo, Japan, this past Sunday. The bout, a rematch from June 2023, showcased Ruotolo's positional dominance and relentless submission attempts, earning him a well-deserved $50,000 bonus for his decisive victory.

Reflecting on his performance, Ruotolo highlighted his dominance in positions like the crucifix and side control, acknowledging close calls on submissions, including a particularly tight D’Arce choke. Despite the dominance, Ruotolo expressed his determination to review the match and make necessary improvements, aiming for a finish in his future contests.

While Ruotolo had prepared for a lightweight MMA debut against Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki at ONE 165, stepping in for Sage Northcutt, the plan didn't materialize. Aoki went on to submit John Lineker in an openweight MMA bout. Ruotolo, undeterred, spoke about his willingness to take on the challenge of two fights in one night, expressing respect for Aoki's legendary status and commending him for accepting a last-minute opponent change.

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Although Ruotolo's MMA debut didn't occur as planned, he revealed his ongoing training in the sport and aims to debut in the first half of 2024. Beyond dabbling, he envisions a remarkable journey in ONE Championship, aspiring to hold both the ONE MMA World Title and his submission grappling crown simultaneously. Ruotolo emphasized his eagerness for the challenge, stating, "I’d like to consider myself as a true martial artist... I just love to fight," signifying his determination to make a mark not only in submission grappling but also in the MMA realm.

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