‘I’ve always been considered an underdog’ – Magomed Abdulkadirov set to shock Tye Ruotolo

Magomed Abdulkadirov spoke about being an underdog to Tye Ruotolo at ONE Fight Night 16 on November 3.

Dagestani grappler Magomed Abdulkadirov has before him the biggest opportunity of his competitive career.

This Friday, November 3, at ONE Fight Night 16: Haggerty vs. Andrade, Abdulkadirov will square off with IBJJF world champion and ADCC veteran Tye Ruotolo for the inaugural ONE welterweight submission grappling world title. The bout is set for one, 10-minute round of submission-only action.

For the Russian, the matchup represents his chance to take out one of grappling’s top pound-for-pound talents and turn himself into an overnight celebrity in the BJJ community.

Abdulkadirov is well aware of what an upset victory over the 20-year-old black belt would mean.

“The victory and the ONE title would start a new chapter in my career, in my life,” he said in an interview with ONE Championship. “I have given my whole youth to this sport, and I am extremely motivated to win the vacant belt to write my name in history.”

While he might not be nearly as well known as Ruotolo, Abdulkadirov isn’t entirely new to the professional grappling scene. He is a 2015 ADCC veteran, owning a submission victory over Benson Henderson at that event. 

More recently, he has competed at AIGA Global, leading his Universal Fighters squad to a team championship last season.

For the most part, the Russian has a classic, meat-and-potatoes grappling game that emphasizes guard passing and back-taking. That style comes up against Ruotolo’s ultra-aggressive, submission-hunting approach that’s made him one of the sport’s most entertaining athletes.

“The ability to put on constant pressure is the key to my victory in the upcoming fight,” Abdulkadirov said. “This way, I can force my opponent to make mistakes. 

“My greatest strengths are pressing, working on the offense, working from the top and from the back. I also have my favorite techniques: rear-naked choke, kimura, and others.”

On paper, Abdulkadirov looks to be out-gunned and overmatched against the young American.

But with matches against Craig Jones and Mica Galvao (a loss and a win, respectively), he says he’s embracing his underdog status, ready to shock the grappling world with one of its biggest upsets:

“Ruotolo is very good. He is young and hungry, although he already has some titles under his belt. I’ve already fought top guys like Craig Jones, Mica Galvao, and I’ve always been considered an underdog, which only motivates me. 

“I am confident in my abilities and I will be able to prove that Russian and Dagestani grappling is at a world-class level. If you are not confident, you have nothing to do at this level. My hard work must pay off. I create the situations, but the result is up to the Almighty. My plan is to force my own game on him and get my opponent to make mistakes.”

How to watch: Magomed Abdulkadirov vs. Tye Ruotolo takes place in the co-main event of ONE Fight Night 16: Haggerty vs. Andrade, which airs live on Prime Video (free with Amazon Plus subscription) on Friday, November 3, 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.

Ben Coate has 1172 posts and counting. See all posts by Ben Coate