ONE lightweight submission grappling world champion Kade Ruotolo isn't looking past this weekend's challenge at "ONE Fight Night 11: Eersel vs. Menshikov" on Amazon Prime Video, but he does have something else brewing in the background.
The young Brazilian jiu-jitsu phenom puts his belt on the line against heated rival Tommy Langaker in the co-main event of the star-studded card, which U.S. and Canadian fans can watch live on Friday with an Amazon Prime membership.
Though he's been deep in preparation for the challenge his decorated Norwegian foe will offer, Ruotolo recently revealed that he has been juggling MMA work alongside his grappling training in the hopes he'll get to test his mettle in the sport very soon.
"It's just something new to me," Ruotolo told MMA Underground. "I'm learning every single time I step on those mats in MMA. I'm still in jiu-jitsu these days, but every time I step on the mats in MMA, my eyes bulge. I'm learning so many new techniques and moves. I definitely want to make that MMA debut this year.
"I want it to be tomorrow. If it were up to me, I'd have it this upcoming week, and I'd be ready to go, but everyone around me wants to make sure I do it right, that I do it smart. I'm thankful for that."
As the reigning ONE titleholder, not to mention the 2022 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Fighting World Championship winner, Ruotolo's grappling prowess is undeniable. Despite his current eagerness to step into action in the all-encompassing sport of MMA, Ruotolo understands that he must have a well-rounded skill set to compete at an elite level there, as well. Therefore, the Atos Jiu-Jitsu representative is taking time to polish his striking skills before he plunges headfirst into the new sport.
"I really want to make sure that I don't want to only have to go rely on my jiu-jitsu when I step in that ONE circle and the guys are throwing head kicks at me," Ruotolo said. "I want to make sure that I'm well-versed in everything and that if I need to use my hands, I'll use my hands, and if I need my jiu-jitsu, I'll use my jiu-jitsu. I'll make sure I'm well-equipped in every field."
At just 20, Ruotolo may have a newfound interest in all things MMA, but the Andre Galvao black belt won't be shying away from his grappling roots. The lightweight submission grappling king admits that while MMA has absolutely captured his imagination, there will always be a place in his heart for his lifelong passion.
"I've been drifting towards MMA, but jiu-jitsu will forever be in my life," Ruotolo said. "As of recently, though, I've been really trying to make that push because I really want to get my MMA debut going.
"I'll never give up on jiu-jitsu, and I'll always stay competing in jiu-jitsu in ADCC and things like that, but I just love MMA so much right now, and I'm super excited for that next venture."