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Ruotolo brothers reflect on triumphant ONE debuts, look ahead to MMA

The 19-year-old grappling phenoms backed up the hype against Shinya Aoki and Garry Tonon at ONE 157 on Friday.
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The Ruotolo brothers announced themselves to the global fan base in style with a pair of stunning victories in their submission grappling contests at "ONE 157: Petchmorakot vs. Vienot" last Friday.

Kade Ruotolo kicked things off with a dominant decision win over Japanese legend Shinya Aoki, and Tye Ruotolo followed with a lightning-quick submission of American superstar Garry Tonon.

In the process, the 19-year-old phenoms backed up the hype and showed why there was so much excitement around their promotional debuts.

Kade relentlessly attacked Aoki throughout their 10-minute battle, applying constant pressure on the former ONE lightweight world champion. 

He couldn't secure a finish, but the young grappler still thrilled fans with slick moves – including a bounce off the ONE circle wall to take the back and a late buggy choke attempt – and he feels happy to have taken a massive scalp.

"That was a huge, huge win for me," Kade Ruotolo said. "Shinya is a very tough opponent, one of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners to ever do it in the MMA scene and jiu-jitsu scene.

"I thought for sure I was going to get the submission. I guess that is why I'm a bit disappointed at the moment, but at the same time, there were a couple of cool moments in the match."

Meanwhile, Tye's finish of Tonon was sensational.

The 30-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu veteran is known for his incredible defense and has rarely been submitted during his long career atop the grappling world, but Ruotolo got it done in just 97 seconds.

The Atos prodigy got on top following an early takedown attempt, passed Tonon's guard, and then quickly locked up his trademark D'Arce choke. 

"I don't think it could have gone any better," Tye Ruotolo said. "Garry's a legend in the sport, so to get the D'Arce over him in that amount of time, I'm super, super, super stoked. Over the moon for sure.

"Garry's known as the escape artist. So he's definitely got a bunch of different exit routes from different positions, so I was definitely just stoked to be able to see that opportunity, catch it, and finish it."

Adding to his delight, Tye bagged a $50,000 performance bonus from ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong, though he doesn't plan on keeping it all for himself.

"We probably will (split the bonus)," he said. "It's going towards our gym that we're going to be building in Costa Rica, for sure. I can't wait to get that up and running, and then we'll be training in paradise."

Is MMA next for Ruotolo brothers?

The Ruotolo twins have some big plans for their futures inside the Circle, and fans can't wait to see more of them following their inaugural performances at ONE 157.

Both teenagers will compete in the ADCC World Championships – the most prestigious submission grappling tournament in the world – later in 2022, but soon after, a change of sport is on the horizon.

For his part, Kade is keen to strap on the four-ounce MMA gloves in the near future, and he wouldn't rule out a potential rematch with Aoki under a different rule set.

"We have a few more things we really want to accomplish this year," Kade said. "We want to get a couple more ONE submission grappling events under our belt, and I still have that big ADCC event in September. But as soon as possible after that, basically the towards the end of the year or maybe early next year, we'll be stepping foot in the circle with the gloves this time.

"If he's up for it, I'd love to (rematch Shinya in MMA). That'd be an amazing first match for me to step foot in the MMA scene. I felt pretty dominant, and I feel like I would have the same result in MMA."

Tye is also interested in running it back with Tonon and believes he can defeat the former ONE featherweight world title challenger in MMA, too.

But when it comes down to it, there aren't many opponents he would decline – and he's always open to fresh challenges.

"Honestly, I really don't know who I want next in jiu-jitsu," Tye said. "Maybe an MMA debut. My brother and I are really scratching for that. But yeah, either. I'm really down to fight anybody in the world, big or small. I'm just ready to go.

"I think it would be really cool to have the opportunity to fight Garry in MMA. I think after my performance, I kind of deserve it. In jiu-jitsu, I proved that I'm better than him in the most humble way possible, and I think that my hands are better than his, too, so I would love to fight him in MMA."

This story first published at ONEFC.com.