At just 20 years old, Tye Ruotolo has already etched his name into the annals of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu history, but his ambitions soar far beyond his current achievements. The recent conquest at ONE Fight Night 16, where he secured the inaugural ONE Welterweight Submission Grappling World Title, marks a significant milestone in his burgeoning career. However, Ruotolo is acutely aware that his journey towards becoming a BJJ legend is just beginning.
Speaking with the South China Morning Post, Ruotolo underscored his aspiration to be recognized unequivocally as the world’s best in BJJ. “What’s in my mind is being the best in the world, you know, and no discussions,” he stated. This ambitious goal sets his sights on overcoming some of the sport’s most respected practitioners, namely Nicholas Meregali and Gordon Ryan.
Ruotolo’s desire to face and defeat Meregali stems from a closely contested match at the 2022 ADCC World Championships, where he suffered a narrow defeat in the Absolutes division. This loss to Meregali, a natural heavyweight, is one Ruotolo is eager to avenge, demonstrating his relentless drive to elevate his status in the BJJ world.
The rivalry with Gordon Ryan adds another layer to Ruotolo’s quest for greatness. Ryan, who has an existing beef with both Tye and his twin brother Kade, the reigning ONE lightweight submission grappling world champion, represents a significant hurdle in Ruotolo’s path. A future matchup with Ryan would be more than a competitive sporting encounter; it’s a chance for Ruotolo to settle existing scores and cement his place among BJJ’s elite.
While Ruotolo’s aspirations include these formidable opponents, another name stands out in his journey to legendary status – Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida. Often regarded as the greatest BJJ artist of all time with 17 world titles, Almeida’s potential matchup with Ruotolo would be a clash of eras. However, Almeida’s shift towards a growing MMA career in ONE Championship might delay or even preclude this dream matchup.
Ruotolo’s dominance was on full display at the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, during ONE Fight Night 16. He controlled the 10-minute ground battle against Magomed Abdulkadirov, showcasing his exceptional grappling skills. Despite not achieving a submission finish, Ruotolo’s performance was a masterclass in BJJ, as he kept Abdulkadirov on the defensive through a series of calculated submission attempts.
Post-fight, Ruotolo expressed some frustration with Abdulkadirov’s defensive tactics, which he felt hindered his ability to secure a submission finish. “I’ll feel stoked, no matter what, you know. I tried my hardest and it’s hard when your opponent doesn’t come at you,” he remarked, acknowledging the challenges posed when facing a cautious opponent. Yet, he also extended respect to Abdulkadirov for enduring some intense moments during their match.
With this victory, Ruotolo joins an exclusive group of ONE submission grappling champions, alongside notables like Mikey Musumeci, Danielle Kelly, and his brother Kade. Looking ahead, Ruotolo is open to facing any challengers in his first world title defense. Furthermore, he and his brother are considering a transition to mixed martial arts, signaling a potential new chapter in their combat sports journey.
A unique prospect for Ruotolo is a grappling contest against his twin brother, Kade, the current ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Champion. Reflecting on the possibility of facing Kade, Ruotolo views it as an extension of their lifelong training sessions, which began when they were just 3 years old. The twins have competed against each other three times, with Tye winning each encounter. However, he acknowledges that Kade remains his most challenging opponent, given their deep understanding of each other’s styles and techniques.
Tye Ruotolo’s ambitions in BJJ are clear and firmly rooted in his desire to be recognized as the best in the world. His approach is methodical, targeting specific rivals who will elevate his standing in the sport. As he navigates through potential rematches, new challenges, and a possible venture into MMA, the BJJ community and combat sports fans worldwide will be watching, recognizing Ruotolo as a formidable force in the world of grappling.