Kade Ruotolo to make IBJJF black belt debut against Natan Chueng

Kade Ruotolo will make his IBJJF black belt debut in the gi against Natan Chueng at the IBJJF Absolute No-Gi Grand Prix.

Reigning 77kg ADCC champion and ONE lightweight submission grappling world champion Kade Ruotolo will soon return to gi competition and make his IBJJF black belt debut.

This Thursday, February 29, at the IBJJF Absolute No-Gi Grand Prix, the 21-year-old phenom will take on respected black belt competitor Natan Chueng in a gi superfight.

Widely regarded among the planet’s top pound-for-pound no-gi competitors, Ruotolo has not competed in the gi since the 2021 IBJJF Worlds where he took home second in the brown belt division, losing to his twin brother Tye Ruotolo in the final. 

Both Ruotolo brothers received their black belts from their longtime coach Andre Galvao shortly after the event.

Since then, Kade Ruotolo has competed exclusively in no-gi and gone undefeated. In 2022, he submitted all four of his opponents at the ADCC World Championships to become the youngest-ever athlete to win that tournament.

Not long after winning ADCC gold, Ruotolo defeated Sambo world champion Uali Kurzhev to claim the inaugural ONE lightweight submission grappling world title, and has since successfully defended three times with a win over Matheus Gabriel and a pair of victories against current IBJJF no-gi world champion Tommy Langaker.

While lesser known than Ruotolo, Chueng is far from an easy opponent. A black belt since June 2019, the Brazilian is no stranger to elite competition, particularly in the gi. He holds recent notable victories over the likes of ADCC Trials winner Elijah Dorsey, two-time ADCC champion JT Torres, and top European athlete Leon Larman.

Stylistically, any matchup involving Ruotolo is likely to produce fireworks, and this contest is no exception. Look for Cheung to try to use a variety of lapel guards to slow down the all-action Ruotolo and his seemingly endless aggression, while Ruotolo will probably employ his world-class passing game to find a dominant position before attacking the submission.

How to watch: Kade Ruotolo vs. Natan Chueng takes place at the IBJJF Absolute No-Gi Grand Prix on Thursday, February 29, and will air live on FloGrappling (subscription required) beginning at 8:00 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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