Kade Ruotolo booked for MMA debut at ONE 167

Current ADCC and ONE submission grappling champion Kade Ruotolo will make his MMA debut against Blake Cooper.

Kade Ruotolo’s long-awaited MMA debut is finally on the calendar.

Sports Illustrated has reported that on Friday, June 7, at ONE 167, the 21-year-old BJJ prodigy will take on Hawaii’s Blake Cooper in a three-round professional MMA contest.

Consistently ranked among the top pound-for-pound BJJ competitors in the sport, Ruotolo is the reigning ONE lightweight submission grappling world champion and the current ADCC world champion at 77kg – an honor he earned with a 100 percent submission rate across four matches. He boasts notable wins over current Who’s Number One champion Mica Galvao, two-time IBJJF gi world champion Matheus Gabriel, as well as current IBJJF no-gi world champions Roberto Jimenez and Tommy Langaker.  

Ruotolo has competed almost exclusively in ONE since the 2022 ADCC World Championships but has recently made a foray into gi competition as he presumably prepares for a run at the 2024 IBJJF Worlds. He made his IBJJF black belt debut earlier this year and earned a dominant points victory over Natan Chueng.

The California native is slated to face IBJJF no-gi Pans champion Francisco Lo in a 180-pound non-title bout on April 5 at ONE Fight Night 21.

Ruotolo has hinted at an MMA debut for some time and has been seen working with famed striking coach Jason Parillo, who has coached a number of elite MMA fighters, including Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold, and Marlon “Chito” Vera.

Ruotolo’s opponent, Cooper, owns a 3-0 amateur MMA record and a 2-1 professional record. The 27-year-old most recently competed last September at ONE Fight Night when he suffered a knockout loss to rising star Maurice Abevi.

Cooper is the son of Hawaiian MMA trailblazer Ray Cooper Jr. and the brother of former PFL world champion Ray Cooper III.

Given Ruotolo’s accolades as a grappler, he will bring with him plenty of lofty expectations as he transitions into the all-around sport of MMA. And while Cooper will present a legitimate challenge for the debuting BJJ black belt, Ruotolo will understandably be considered a large favorite in this matchup.

How to watch: Kade Ruotolo vs. Blake Cooper will take place on Friday, June 7, at ONE 167 at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, and will air live on Prime Video (free with Amazon Plus subscription) beginning at 8:00 PM EST.

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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