Undefeated heavyweight MMA contender Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida knows a thing or two about submission grappling. After all, the 17-time BJJ World Champion is widely considered the greatest jiu-jitsu competitor of all time.
And even though the 33-year-old Brazilian has transitioned to MMA full-time, he still pays close attention to the grappling matches taking place under the ONE banner.
Those matches include the upcoming ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Title bout between defending king Kade Ruotolo and Norwegian star Tommy Langaker at ONE Fight Night 11: Eersel vs. Menshikov on Prime Video.
Their showdown will serve as the co-main event on Friday, June 9, live in U.S. primetime from the historic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
In breaking down the clash, Almeida is quick to recognize that Ruotolo is riding an unprecedented wave of success – capturing the division’s inaugural crown and becoming the youngest-ever ADCC World Champion, all while maintaining an undefeated black belt record.
“Buchecha” told ONEFC:
“It’s gonna be a good one, but I think Kade is still the better man. Of course, Tommy is really good, really dangerous. He won’t give up until the end. But I think Kade, it’s his moment right now. The best moment of his career so far.”
Almeida acknowledges that Langaker – long regarded as Europe’s top male grappler – possesses elite BJJ skills.
Still, he believes that Ruotolo’s guard-passing ability and overall versatility will make the difference against the challenger’s vaunted guard, as long as the defending king stays on point.
“[Langaker is] dangerous for an opponent, and I think that’s why it’s gonna be a good fight. And I think [Kade’s] the kind of guy that doesn’t really care where he plays, from top or bottom, but I know Tommy will prefer to be on the bottom playing guard.”
“And I think that it’s gonna be a perfect fight for Kade because Kade will play a lot from top, trying to pass. So whoever makes the first mistake will pay the price.”
Buchecha: Ruotolo Brothers Were Always Destined For Greatness
Of course, Kade Ruotolo’s battle with Tommy Langaker won’t be the first time Marcus Almeida has seen the 20-year-old in action.
“Buchecha” has long known about Ruotolo and his twin brother, Tye Ruotolo, who boasts an undefeated ONE record across three thrilling submission grappling contests.
He said of the young American phenoms:
“Watching what [Kade is] doing is special for sure. The kids, the both of them, are really special.”
The Brazilian recalls watching the Ruotolos dominate the competition scene as children, racking up gold medals at every major tournament available to them.
Now that they’ve become superstars in ONE and are firmly established as two of the top pound-for-pound grapplers on the planet, Almeida says they’re living up to the incredible amount of promise they showed as youngsters.
Moreover, he’s thrilled to see both brothers maintain their high-paced, aggressive style of grappling at the top level of the sport:
“For sure, they were ahead of their time. They were like killing all the people, the other kids, because they were so fast, they were thinking so fast in transitions and everything. So I think that was the key for them, but they kept doing this until the black belts.
“The good things they used to do as kids as green belts, they’re still doing this as black belts. It’s something we don’t see really often.”