Kade Ruotolo (T) vs. Tommy Langaker (ONE Championship)

Kade Ruotolo Sits Down with Demetrious Johnson Ahead of His MMA Debut

Ahead of his MMA debut at ONE 167: Tawanchai vs. Nattawut II on Jun. 7, Kade Ruotolo had an opportunity to learn from one of the all-time greats. Kade & Tye Ruotolo hit the mats with Demetrious Johnson earlier in May.

Following their training, Ruotolo sat down with Johnson on his “Mightycast” to share his excitement about the next step in his martial arts journey.

“We’ve grown up watching MMA. Even though I knew I had to do what I had to do in jiu-jitsu first, it always excited me that one day I was gonna be there,” Ruotolo told Johnson.


“I knew for sure. It was a bucket list thing. I had to fight MMA.” 

The decision did not come on the spur of the moment. ONE Championship’s lightweight submission grappling king has always felt this move was in his future. But now was the right time to show what he can do in MMA.

“As of the last couple of years, that urge has been growing more and more,” Ruotolo admitted.

“I honestly think I fought so many times for free with my brother. I wanna get paid now! I love fighting, I’m a fighter. I love jiu-jitsu, but I just don’t feel like it’s a fight. It’s a match, it’s not a fight.”

“I’m so excited to show what I can do in MMA. In the most humble way possible, I genuinely believe that MMA hasn’t had my level of grappling and my level of jiu-jitsu ever.” 

One of the benefits of training in other disciplines for the talented Californian is that he was excited to learn new tools.

After ascending to the forefront of grappling, there was little left that was brand new. Now, adding striking, wrestling, and other sports to his training, he is back in the classroom.

“Every time I train MMA, I’m learning something new, and it’s refreshing being a student again,” Ruotolo remarked.

“I like to think the transition is going well. I think the main thing is I feel comfortable in my sparring rounds and live drills. I’m not very fearful, I have a lot of heart, I’m not scared of a lot of things. My coach and my family are happy with the progress.” 

One element that surprised Ruotolo was the different cardio required to go hard for 15 minutes in MMA.

After a full training camp to prepare for Cooper, the Atos BJJ star is ready to take MMA by storm much the same way he did BJJ. If he can, the star will explode around the world, with new fans in awe of his incredible talent.

“The hardest thing was the cardio on my legs. It’s the last thing you expect. I can go all day in jiu-jitsu. The hopping is different. The calf muscles. It was something I didn’t have built up in jiu-jitsu. The cardio for the footwork was one of the biggest shockers.  

“I felt cardio-wise I could go another 100 rounds, but my calves were just tired before everything else!” 

ONE 167 airs live and free on Prime Video on Friday, Jun. 7, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.