Kade Ruotolo has become the golden boy of submission grappling in recent years. The 19-year-old recently submitted all four of his opponents to become the youngest competitor ever to claim ADCC gold.

His streak of glory continued at ONE on Prime Video 3 last weekend when he heel hooked Uali Kurzhev to claim the inaugural lightweight submission grappling title. It was Ruotolo’s second match since signing with the organization and his second win.

Having already submitted Shinya Aoki in a submission grappling bout at ONE 157 he wants to face the Japanese legend in an MMA fight,

“I think a very interesting fight would be Shinya Aoki. It would kinda be a cool rematch. He fought me in a grappling bout, MMA would be very intriguing as well. I fought him in my world, it would be really cool to fight him in his world. Maybe next year we can get that going.”

On hold

Ruotolo has been working on various aspects of the MMA game but admits that this training went on hold as he prepared for ADCC,

“I’ve been working it a bit more. Kind of had to hit the brakes a little bit, I had that huge ADCC tournament and then now this, but I’m gonna continue working these hands, and my goal is early next year, to start mixing it up and then have that MMA debut. Beyond ecstatic for that as well.”

He is even willing to put a timescale on it and expects to make his MMA debut in 2023,

“Guaranteed next year without a doubt, we’ll be in the cage, or the circle, with the gloves on. As far as what exact month, I can’t be certain, there’s not a specific date that we have signed. But within the first six months of next year for sure.”

Very new

He says he started training Muay Thai when he was 12 but admits that it is still ‘very new’ to him,

“I’ve been training jiu-jitsu my entire life, obviously that’s my strong suit. However I love striking. It’s not like I’m just now picking it up I think about 12-years old, we were training a bit of Muay Thai for a couple years.”

It is not clear whether Ruotolo continued with that training or not but he sounds excited by the challenge of competing in a completely new sport,

“So I have a bit in me, it’s not like I’m completely new to the game. And I’m falling in love with it every day. It’s very new to me (and) I’m learning every day and it’s refreshing.”

It sounds like the teenager is relishing the prospect of a new challenge. Matchmakers might be reluctant to match him with Aoki given the gulf in MMA experience although the Japanese legend has made it clear he will never decline a fight offer.

But with his big hair Ruotolo could easily pass for a surfer and he is very confident he will make some ‘big waves’ in MMA,

“I’m just going to keep refining my skills, and I do believe the second I step in that circle, I’m going to make some big waves for sure.”