Kade and Tye Ruotolo took the world by storm when they debuted in ONE Championship at ONE X with wins over Shinya Aoki and Garry Tonon. The brothers flashed their brilliant submission grappling game and established their star power right out of the gate.
Christian Lee Predicts Ruotolos Will Be Stars in MMA
And you can count former ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian Lee as one of their many admirers.
“I was pretty impressed with the Ruotolo brothers, going into their grappling matches and taking out [their tough opponents]. One of the brothers submitted Garry Tonon and the other one [got] a dominating win against Shinya [Aoki]. I thought that was really impressive. They’re both great grapplers, Shinya and Garry,” Lee told ONE.
Lee noted one reason for their victories is their focus on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, whereas Aoki and Tonon are mixed martial artists. A black belt in his own right, Lee understands how the difference between the two sports may have given them a distinct advantage at ONE X.
“I do feel like I can step in there and grapple with the top grapplers in the world. But there’s just little things [to take into account]. When you focus purely on one area of the sport, when you focus purely on grappling or purely on striking, you need to adjust because MMA is a completely different game,” said Lee.
“But you know, it’s a different game, MMA and jiu-jitsu. The Ruotolo brothers are purely focused on grappling, and I feel like that’s maybe why they had a slight edge. But, of course, in an MMA fight, I think it would have gone very differently.”
The Ruotolo Brothers do have their sights set on making the transition down the line, but there is no timetable for their mixed martial arts debut.
And it is not just their striking that the United MMA representative believes they need to work on in anticipation of their move into the sport. Lee believes it’s the totality of using each piece together to be as seamless as possible.
“Definitely, they’re world-class grapplers. They’re very good. But it’s a very big transition going from grappling to MMA. I think right now they’re doing a great job in grappling, and if they did want to make that transition over to MMA, they need to commit a whole lot of time to just changing their game completely to add in the striking, to add in the MMA component,” said “The Warrior.”
But how far can they go?
The top-ranked lightweight contender sees a bright future for the twins. Lee predicts both Kade and Tye have everything it takes to ascend to the sport’s apex.
“I think if they made the decision and they started fighting [in MMA], they will do really well. They’ll probably make it up to the top of the division,” said Lee.