‘I can beat guys way bigger than me’ – Tye Ruotolo says he’s the current pound-for-pound best

Tye Ruotolo spoke to the media after defeating Dagi Arslanaliev by submission at ONE Fight Night 13.

Tye Ruotolo is determined to prove himself as the world’s top pound-for-pound no-gi grappler.

On Friday, August 4, at ONE Fight Night 13, the 20-year-old did what many expected of him, submitting MMA standout Dagi Arslanaliev with relative ease. Read the recap and watch the highlights of that performance here.

Now 4-0 in the promotion with three finishes, the victory earned Ruotolo a $50,000 performance bonus, as well as a promised shot at the inaugural ONE welterweight submission grappling world title in his next outing.

After the match, Ruotolo spoke to the media. When asked if he considers himself to be the sport’s top pound-for-pound competitor, he was unequivocal.

“You know, in the most humble way possible, for sure,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anyone around my size that can beat me and I think I can beat guys way bigger than me too. So pound-for-pound, a hundred percent.”

Ruotolo also made mention of Gordon Ryan – the multiple-time ADCC world champion who is currently regarded by many as the pound-for-pound best no-gi grappler. 

Ruotolo and Ryan have traded barbs in the past, and Ruotolo echoed his sentiments that Ryan earned his place in grappling only thanks to the help of steroids and PEDs.

“Gordon’s gonna have to say something about that but he took a bunch of steroids to get to where he’s at, you know. He’s just taking matches here and there so, I’m gonna stay busy and keep fighting everyone. Stay active.”

Ryan has not competed since a December 2022 overtime victory over Nick Rodriguez.

Tye Ruotolo targets Izaak Michell or Pedro Marinho next

While Ruotolo was promised a ONE welterweight submission grappling world title shot in his next match, he doesn’t yet have an opponent for that showdown.

However, two potential opponents were on the tip of his tongue. 

“I’m down to fight anybody,” he said. “But I think Izaac Michell and Pedro Marinho are the two toughest guys at 185 so either one those guys. Maybe they fight each other and I face the winner. I’m down to fight anybody at 185. Isaac or Pedro, let’s go.” (ONE’s welterweight division is 185 pounds).

Michell is coming off a dominant decision victory over Jacob “The Hillbilly Hammer” Couch at Who’s Number One (WNO) in May.

Marinho, meanwhile, is the WNO light heavyweight champion, successfully defending his title against ADCC world champion Giancarlo Bodoni in February.

Ruotolo defeated Marinho by submission at the 2022 ADCC World Championships. For his part, Marinho hasn’t been shy about wanting a rematch against the Atos representative. Marinho spoke to Grappling Insider about why he wants to face Ruotolo again:

Previously, Ruotolo and his twin brother Kade Ruotolo have spoken about eventually transitioning from grappling into MMA.

And while Tye says his brother is ready to dive headfirst into a different sport, Tye still has things to prove in the grappling world.

“I see my brother making his debut by the end of the year. He’s got so much fire in his heart for MMA. I can see it,” Ruotolo said. “So for sure he’s gonna do it this year, and for myself I’m gonna wait a little bit longer. 

“You know I wanna keep proving myself in jiu-jitsu, cementing myself as, you know, the best around in my weight or even just around my weight, pound-for-pound, and then once I cement that I’ll make my way over to MMA and make my debut.”

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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