‘I want it to be tomorrow’ – Kade Ruotolo is itching to make MMA debut ‘this year’

ONE lightweight submission grappling world champion Kade Ruotolo says he wants to transition to MMA this year.

The reigning ADCC 77kg champion and ONE lightweight submission grappling world champion says his much-anticipated  transition to MMA is likely to happen in 2023.

Undefeated as a black belt, Kade Ruotolo has previously spoken about his desire to try the all-around sport, but that switch from grappling to MMA now seems closer than ever.

Of course, Ruotolo currently has other matters to tend to, as he’s set to defend his ONE world title against ADCC Trials winner and European champion Tommy Langaker this Friday at ONE Fight Night 11: Eersel vs. Menshikov on Prime Video. 

Kade Ruotolo targets switch to MMA in the near future

In a recent interview with ONE Championship, the Californian said that, while he remains focused on grappling for the time being, he’s loved every moment of MMA training he’s had so far.

“It’s just something new to me,” he said. “I’m learning every single time I step on those mats in MMA. I’m still in jiujitsu these days, but every time I step on the mats in MMA, my eyes bulge, and I’m learning so many new techniques and moves. 

“So I definitely want to make that MMA debut this year.”

Whether it happens in 2023 or some time in the future, Ruotolo’s transition to MMA would be exciting news for the MMA community. Given his accomplishments in grappling and status as arguably the world’s top pound-for-pound no-gi competitor, the 20-year-old would immediately be one of the sport’s hottest prospects.

Ruotolo seems to know that already and is in a hurry to test himself in a new sport.

I want [my debut] to be tomorrow. If it were up to me, I’d have it this upcoming week, and I’d be ready to go. But everyone around me wants to make sure I do it right, I do it smart. And I’m thankful for that.”

As quickly as he wants the switch to MMA to happen, Ruotolo also recognizes that it would be foolish to rush into his first fight without proper training in the stand-up arts.

“I really want to make sure that I don’t want to only have to go rely on my jiu-jitsu when I step in that Circle and the guys are throwing head-kick strikes at me.  I want to make sure that I’m well-versed in everything and that if I need to use my hands, I’ll use my hands, and if I need my jiu-jitsu, I’ll use my jiu-jitsu. And I’ll make sure I’m well-equipped in every field.”

How to watch: ONE Fight Night 11 takes place on Friday, June 9, and will air live on Prime Video (free with Amazon Prime subscription) beginning at 8 PM ET.

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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