Match preview: Kade Ruotolo and Tommy Langaker run it back at ONE 165

On Sunday, January 28th, Kade Ruotolo will defend his ONE world title in a highly anticipated rematch against Tommy Langaker.

Kade Ruotolo and Tommy Langaker are set to run it back for Kade’s monstrous gold ONE Championship lightweight submission grappling belt in the co-main event at ONE 165: Superlek vs. Takeru in Tokyo, Japan. 

Their first matchup at ONE Fight Night 11 in June 2023 was an intense battle that produced fireworks from the opening bell.

In that match, Ruotolo employed his aggressive passing style while Langaker played a tricky open guard that proved nearly impossible to pass. Throughout the bout, Langaker was able to attack a few outside heel hooks that looked to be tight, but as usual, Ruotolo proved practically impossible to submit.

After several minutes into the 10-minute submission-only contest, it looked as though Langaker might have been on his way to a decision but Ruotolo willed himself back into the match late, almost securing a guard pass, threatening his own leg submissions, and nearly taking the back. 

Both of these gentlemen left it all on the mat and made the decision difficult for the judges. The verdict came back as a narrow decision victory for Ruotolo. That victory marked the Californian’s second successful defense of his gold, improved his ONE Championship record to a sterling 4-0, and earned him ONE’s 2023 Submission Grappling Match of the Year honors. Ruotolo has not competed 

For Langaker, that was his first defeat in the organization. Since then, though, the Norwegian has gone on a tear, winning gold at the IBJJF No-Gi Euros, No-Gi Worlds, and picking up a hard-fought decision win over veteran competitor Oliver Taza at Polaris.

Ruotolo and Langaker are now set to run it back and both have vowed that this bout will not see a judges’ decision. Fans can expect an all-out technical war for however long this lasts. It will be interesting to see if either will try to switch up the game plan or if fans will see much of the same with Ruotolo passing and Langaker attacking from his back.

How to watch: Kade Ruotolo vs. Tommy Langaker takes place in the co-main event of ONE 165: Superlek vs. Takeru on Sunday, January 28, and will air live via pay-per-view on beginning at 3 AM EST.