Grappling icon Kade Ruotolo “super fired up” for MMA debut at ONE 167

By BJPENN.COM Staff - April 17, 2024

Kade Ruotolo is feeling a rush of excitement as he gears up for his long-anticipated transition to MMA against Blake Cooper.

Kade Ruotolo

The reigning ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Champion makes his first foray into the all-encompassing sport at ONE 167 on Prime Video. This takes place live in U.S. primetime from the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, on June 7.

For the young American phenom, this move is a dream come true. Despite his prowess on the mats, he has always harbored a curiosity and hunger to explore the challenges of MMA.

Now, with the opportunity at hand, he is eager to prove himself against a formidable opponent like Cooper.

“I’m super fired up. It’s been a long time coming. I have a tough opponent in Blake Cooper ahead of me. The entire Cooper family are legends. [He has] heavy hands and good wrestling. It will be an amazing matchup,” Ruotolo said.

One of the main questions looming over Ruotolo’s MMA debut is how he will fare in the striking aspect of the bout.

Despite his reputation as a grappler, the 21-year-old is confident that he can hold his own on the feet when the bell rings.

“I’m no Mike Tyson or a Superlek. I’m not quite there yet, but every day I’m getting better and polishing my hands. The main thing is that I’m comfortable striking. I’m not too scared of punches, which is usually the biggest barrier to overcome,” he said.

“My brother (Tye) and I grew up scrapping our whole lives, so the fear button isn’t really there when it comes to striking. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I’ve been finding more success and learning every day, so I’m confident.”

As he gears up for this litmus test, his focus is on blending all the right elements to emerge victorious.

“I’m definitely not taking anybody lightly. [Cooper] has some heavy hands and good wrestling. He’s a scrapper. Anyone from Hawaii is a scrapper. I know that for sure, so I’m excited,” Ruotolo said.

Kade Ruotolo has no plans to leave submission grappling

Despite venturing into MMA, Kade Ruotolo remains grounded in his roots.

The Atos Jiu-Jitsu product has no intentions of abandoning the sport that catapulted him to stardom. Instead, he sees this as an expansion of his repertoire, a chance to grow as an athlete while continuing to honor his grappling origins.

“I just want to stay as active as possible and check all the boxes. MMA, jiu-jitsu, and everything else after that may come with it,” he said.

This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM


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