In the co-main event of ONE Fight Night 11: Eersel vs. Menshikov, Kade Ruotolo will defend the ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Championship against Tommy Langaker in what is sure to be an exciting and fast-paced tussle.
More than a title tilt, Ruotolo vs. Langaker is a perfect example of how ONE Championship continues to grow the sport of submission grappling to new heights.
That is something the Norwegian challenger is very grateful for ahead of his first opportunity to compete for a strap in the Singapore-based promotion on June 9.
“ONE is changing it by putting us on a very professional platform with other various martial arts. They’re showing that they trust us and put trust in their athletes. They’re paying us well and giving us bonuses if we’re doing entertaining fights, giving us good exposure,” Langaker told ONE.
“It’s changing the scene of what a professional jiu-jitsu athlete is. It’s going in the right direction. Now they’re trying to figure out how they changed the rule system. So I think that’s a good thing, too. We need to address that and fine-tune what is going to be the most entertaining aspect of jiu-jitsu. They’re doing a good job already.”
The proof is in the pudding, as some say. ONE put on its first submission grappling match six years ago – a superfight between Garry Tonon and Shinya Aoki – and it saw the potential in the sport.
In 2022, the organization committed to growing it to global recognition by establishing full-fledged divisions featuring some the world’s top submission artist.
The sport now has two World Champions, and submisison grappling battles are a regular part of ONE events.
Perhaps no bigger ingredient to its success has been ONE’s global rule set, which focuses on driving action and not allowing for stalling or gamesmanship through points. This is a style something that Langaker enjoys, and he credits The Home of Martial Arts for its approach.
“It makes it more fun because I practiced a lot of wrestling after the ADCC. I’ve been practicing a lot, which helps me force myself to do more takedowns. I enjoy that. But I misunderstood the rules last time. I thought it was if you did an aggressive pull or if you did a takedown and you failed,” he explained.
“You would get the guard pull. And you could play from there. But they’re doing this if there’s no action, no connection; they stand you up, and then you have to keep going. Just to keep that. I like that because then it’s not going to be just engage, engage, engage, right? It’s going to force that scramble because it has to be an intense connection to then start that sequence. I think that was a very interesting take on it.”
ONE’s rules will make the lightweight submission grappling battle between Ruotolo and Langaker extremely interesting, as both men have shown the ability to go all-out from the opening bell.
The defending king will be focused on his adaptability inside the ring, and he is confident that he can stay a step ahead of his challenger and catch him with varied attacks at a moment’s notice.
“That’s one thing that I do differently than almost every other fighter out there. If I’m playing guard, and my leglocks aren’t working, and my guards are not working, I could stand up, take him down, pass, and vice versa. I could always kind of mix it up with something if it isn’t quite working,” Ruotolo said.
“I think some people are very heavily one-sided in their game. I think this next match with Tommy is probably the way it will start, but it’s probably not the way it will finish.”
On the heels of ONE’s U.S. debut event, which saw Mikey Musumeci light up Denver, Colorado, the latest display of submission grappling on the promotion’s global platform will continue to show why the sport can connect on a massive scale.
There is perhaps no better high-stakes matchup to continue its rise into the limelight than this lightweight co-main showdown.
ONE Fight Night 11 airs on Friday, June 9. The event will be free for all U.S. and Canadian Amazon Prime members beginning at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Prime Video.
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