Kade Ruotolo talks winning ADCC Trials through neck injury

The Ruotolo brothers are undeniably two of the most entertaining competitors in jiu-jitsu today. Fresh black belts under Andre Galvao, twins Kade and Tye Ruotolo both had incredible years of competition in 2021, with Kade winning the Who’s Number One (WNO) lightweight title and being named Grappling Insider’s no-gi grappler of the year, while Tye recently picked up his second title.

The brothers recently appeared on The Open Guardcast. They spoke about Kade’s impressive run through the ADCC East Coast Trials, looked forward to the 2022 ADCC World Championships, and discussed their transition to MMA and ONE Championship.

Kade Ruotolo’s buggy choke submission on Cole Franson was one of the best submissions of 2021. Since then, the buggy choke has caught on at all levels of competition. Kade:

It was honestly super rad to see. I still get videos to this day, almost every day where people are sending me, ‘look I did it or I’m trying it here, what do I need to do?’ So it’s super cool to get all that feedback and see everyone all stoked on the competition… You see it everywhere now.

It may be surprising to hear that Kade went into the ADCC East Coast Trials lacking in motivation. Kade:

Usually I’m always ready and excited to compete. And that was one where I wasn’t motivated to do it. I was competing a lot before that, I had competed so much, like every month to month to month. And I was just burnt out going into it. Going into I was like ‘here we go again, another, what is this 500 person bracket or something like that.’… It was weird because I didn’t have that eagerness to compete like I do…

During the tournament, Kade suffered a neck injury. Tye motivated him to continue on to the final, where he would defeat William Tackett. Tye:

There was about an hour between the semifinals and the finals and [Kade] was just laying down curling… He was like ‘dude my neck is pinched, i can’t look left, how am i supposed to compete, how am i supposed to fight?’ This is the finals!… come on dude, you’re gonna handle this… He went out and he won the final.

Kade qualified for the ADCC World Championships at 77 kg, and Tye has qualified at 88 kg, but the brothers are toying with the idea of switching weight classes. Kade:

Maybe I jump up to 88 and Tye jumps into 77, you never know. Maybe give Tye a break because Tye has been competing with the big guys the past year and a half or so. And I’ve been doing all the cutting, so it would be cool to maybe switch that around. I don’t even know if that’s possible.

The brothers recently signed with MMA promotion ONE Championship, and are planning to transition into MMA. Tye:

Kade and I did wanna make our MMA conversion pretty soon and when that starts to happen we’re probably gonna have to put jiu-jitsu and all the other sports on the back burner. ONE FC, it’s so incredibly convenient to be able to do it all in the same organization.

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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