“I couldn’t understand what he’s doing” - Shinya Aoki praises Kade Ruotolo’s creative offensive style

Shinya Aoki and Kade Ruotolo. (Image courtesy of ONE)
Shinya Aoki and Kade Ruotolo. (Image courtesy of ONE)

Former ONE lightweight world champion Shinya Aoki recently spoke to ONE Championship about his submission grappling match against reighting ONE lightweight submission grappling world champion Kade Ruotolo. The pair shared the circle at ONE X earlier this year.

'Tobikan Judan', despite being one of the most renowned grapplers of all time, was handily dominated by the 19-year-old prodigy for the full 10-minute match.

The Japanese MMA legend had a hard time keeping up with the young prodigy's frenetic pace and creative assault. Ruotolo seemed to be working like a high-speed computer as he pulled off attacks one after the other in rapid succession.

In the interview with ONE, Shinya Aoki was asked what he thought of Ruotolo's creativity when it comes to attacks. To answer this question, Aoki replied with:

"Kade Ruotolo is a fantastic athlete and a very good grappler. He was surprisingly fast and explosive. Actually, many times, I couldn’t understand what he’s doing."

Perhaps the worst that can happen to a fighter in a grappling match is to be clueless and confused about what an opponent is doing.

Much of the defensive aspect of grappling relies heavily on the familiarity of an opponent's offensive patterns. If an athlete is unaware of what's coming, chances are, they won't know how to defend it.

Shinya Aoki was in constant bewilderment throughout his fight with Ruotolo. The young lion was so ahead in technique that he was even doing things a 20-year veteran like Aoki didn't have a clue about.

Shinya Aoki to face Saygid Izagakhmaev at ONE 163

At ONE 163 on November 19, Shinya Aoki will face one of the hottest prospects in the organization, Saygid Izagakhmaev.

Izagakhmaev has had back-to-back wins in ONE Championship and is riding the prestige of his legendary team and his mentor, Khabib Nurmagomedov.

After calling out Aoki months before and finally getting what he wanted, Izagakhmaev had some choice words for his November 19 foe:

“I am happy to fight Shinya Aoki. Aoki is a legend in our sport. Back when I was in high school, I used to watch him fight. But with all due respect, I will retire him.”

Shinya Aoki was made aware of these comments during ONE's press conference for ONE 163. He replied with his own stern statement:

"I know I’m facing so tough opponent. But I know this is something I have to do. That is my position right now. I will do my best. He [Izagakhmaev] will send me retirement? It’s not your business actually."

The Japanese MMA icon concluded with:

"I’m 39 years old now and six months to become 40 years old. When I see the number of my age, I’m in the final countdown. I understand that I hear about this countdown. But I’m the one who decides [when to retire]. When I quit, I will make my own decisions. When I fight, I will fight. Do or retire, I will decide. I believe I deserve to decide these kinds of things. So, I will decide when I need to."

The "old guard vs. new breed" narrative is palpable in this matchup. With that, we're eager to see how Aoki will hold his own against the young Dagestani wrestling machine.

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Edited by Harvey Leonard
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