‘This would mean everything’ – Izaak Michell is ready to shock Tye Ruotolo

Izaak Michell spoke about his upcoming match against Tye Ruotolo at ONE Fight Night 21 on Friday, April 5.

Izaak Michell believes he hasn’t yet shown the world his full potential. 

On April 5, at ONE Fight Night 21, he’ll have his chance to take out one of grappling’s best pound-for-pound competitors when he challenges Tye Ruotolo for his ONE welterweight submission grappling world title.

While both men are regarded by many as the top two 185-pounders on the planet, Michell admits that, on paper, his accomplishments are far less impressive than Ruotolo’s.

“I believe that I am the best 185 guy,” Michell said in an interview with ONE Championship. “I haven’t had the same level of success in the competitions that Tye has, you know, I’ve been doing jiu-jitsu for a less amount of time and I’m kind of just coming up now.”

Indeed, Ruotolo is the youngest ever IBJJF black belt world champion, a former Who’s Number One (WNO) champion, a two-time ADCC semifinalist, and ONE’s undefeated welterweight champion.

But for his part, Michell – though still just a brown belt – has rocketed to the elite ranks in the past couple of years. In 2022, the Australian defeated 10th Planet standout Kyle Chambers in an epic, no-time limit match to win FloGrappling’s Who’s Next reality show. Later that year, he competed at his first ADCC World Championship, losing in the first round to veteran Vagner Rocha but earning Match of the Event honors in the process.

Since then, the 25-year-old’s career has taken off, with notable wins over ADCC Trials winners Jacob Couch and Jozef Chen, as well as current IBJJF no-gi world champion Roberto Jimenez.

Michell also earned gold at his second ADCC Trials – setting him up for a second potential showdown against Ruotolo this August at the 2024 ADCC World Championships. 

“So, last year it was a pretty successful year for me in that I did win a lot of competitions and climb myself to be second-ranked in the 185 division. The fact that we could have competed against each other at ADCC last time and potentially will again in this next ADCC it’s just, you know, someone you keep in mind and if there’s going to be opportunities to have that match before, I think that’s to my benefit. 

“So, we can have this match and then, you know, we can get a feel and then we’ll compete more times in the future. I think every match counts. You learn so much from every match.”

For Michell, a win over Ruotolo would undoubtedly represent the most significant victory of his career so far.

“And yeah, I think I’m still yet to show people what I’m capable of,” he said. “I believe I still have a lot to show and that’s just coming up now, like I’m not even a black belt yet. I’m still coming up and I think a lot of people will, especially a lot of high-level athletes, they recognize the potential that I have.”

Even though he’s recognized within the grappling community as a world-class talent – and a potential favorite to take home gold at the ADCC World Championships – Michell knows that he’s not yet viewed by the general public as the same level as Ruotolo.

That could all change on April 5.

“I think the general fans and everyone, they just get what the media feeds them and so on. But the other guys, you know, they can recognize someone’s potential when they’re coming up and before they even reach that peak sort of status in the sport. So yeah, I think it’s just that I’m capable enough to win and god willing, that will happen.”

Michell recognizes that winning ONE Championship gold would represent a massive step forward in his still-young career. He also recognizes that it could set him up for an unforgettable 2024 that could also see him claiming ADCC gold.

“Man, this would mean everything,” he said about winning the ONE title. “I think it’s definitely perfect timing with the alignment of where I’m at on my journey, I think it’s going to really set me up for my future and be a huge thing. It’s going to change my life, and it’s also going set me up for my big run at ADCC as well. So, I think it’s a huge opportunity and I really can’t wait.”

How to watch: Tye Ruotolo vs. Izaak Michell takes place at ONE Fight Night 21: Eersel vs. Nicolas on Prime Video on April 5 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.

Ben Coate has 1190 posts and counting. See all posts by Ben Coate