The Ruotolo Twins Grapple With an Unbreakable Bond

Most of us have that one true friend that always has our back, and others have a close sibling who share a strong family connection, but only a select few members of the population have a twin that is experiencing the same ups and downs as we are, in real time. For the Ruotolo Twins Kade and Tye, their bond couldn’t be more unbreakable.

Since hitting the Brazilian jiujitsu mat together at the age of 3, the dynamic duo is now dominating the grappling scene in ONE Championship. So, with perhaps the most important matches of both their respective careers just days away, the boys say down with M&F to open up on life as a twin their thoughts ahead of ONE Fight Night 21.

Born in Maui, HI, of Italian and Puerto Rican heritage, the twins grew up in Huntington Beach, California, where they were enrolled into jiu-jitsu classes by their father. “We’ve been doing it since before we can even remember,” says Kade who is now the ONE Lightweight Submission World Champion and is undefeated there with 5 victories to date. “Our dad, at the time was a blue belt,” explains Tye, who holds ONE’s Welterweight Submission World Championship. As you can imagine, the race for both brothers to achieve that initial black belt was intense.

“As much as we hate to admit it, we are pretty much just clones of each other,” jokes Kade (he has the longer hair). “In the way that we have gotten all of our belts together, even all of our stripes together. I don’t think there’s a stripe, or even one promotion that I’ve got on a different day to my brother.”

Tye recalls that the competitiveness between them was always so strong that although they would always both get promoted on the same day, Kade would get called up first, so when it became time to receive the black belt, Tye put his hand up first, to finally get ahead of his bro. (They got their black belts at the age of 18.)

Of course, it’s probably for the best that these brilliant brothers achieve great things at the same time or their relationship might have a completely different dynamic. If they weren’t twins, would the Ruotolo Twins each stand before us as the fighters that they are today? “ way,” says Tye. “t even close,” says Kade.

The Ruotolo Twins

Elite Athletes Like The Ruotolo Twins Require a Trusted Support System

Kade feels that all athletes need a support system, twins or not. “The only other thing that can compare close to having a twin … is (having) a really best friend who is also a teammate in whatever sport that you do. If you have a really solid teammate, that’s basically like a brother to you.”

Like all brothers, they have their own ups and downs with each other. The Ruotolo’s explain to me that their own dynamic is constantly shifting as far as who is perceived as the dominant or ‘older’ brother. “We still go through that pendulum shift here and there,” shares Tye. “We always keep each other in check.”

“It’s tough love, a lot of the time,” adds Kade. When one bro is sore and doesn’t want to face another day of training, the other bro pulls them up and motivates them to continue. Kade admits that is sucks at time, because he knows his brother is telling him exactly what he needs to hear, but that’s how champions like the Ruotolo’s roll. “Its not always what you want to hear, but what you need to hear,” explains Kade. It’s this shared attitude that helps to explain the insane list of accolades that already lie at the twins’ four feet. Tye is currently the youngest IBJJF World champion in the history of the sport while Kade is an IBJJF World, Pan Am, and European Open champion. Having signed with ONE Championship, the boys say they are now able to support themselves financially, something that is notoriously difficult in this sport, plus they are able to focus on one particular rule set, meaning less adjustment from competition to competition.

Champions Must Have Supreme Confidence in Themselves

The brothers agree that their parents early and unwavering faith in them has helped to make these boys the men that we see before us today. From a young age, the Ruotolo twins were told that they were unstoppable. “Even though we were little kids, just starting off, we genuinely thought ‘ok, we’re the best then.’” shares Kade. “Every time we’d go to a comp, we’d look around and see the hundred other kids, ‘like, alright, we’re the best,’” concurs Tye.

Far from cocky, the twins are warm and easy to talk to. It’s hard to imagine that they could tear this interviewer limb from limb once the bell rings. Fortunately, the requirement to prove themselves as the best won’t be tested by me. True competition will come knocking days away at ONE Fight Night 21. This will be the first time that the twins have appeared on the same card since their ONE debuts in 2022.

Interestingly, and somewhat out of the norm for twins, the two warriors fight in different weight divisions. “We were always about the same weight, our whole lives,” says Tye. “Up until ADCC 2019, and I cut about 27 pounds at the time. I was only 16, I didn’t have much weight to lose. I ended up doing it but at a cost, to say the least. After (the ADCC) I gained like 40 pounds in two days or three days (laughs), and ever since, I’ve been about 5 or 10 pounds heavier than Kade.”

Tye will be defending his welterweight submission grappling world title against Izaak Michell at Fight Night 21. “Izaak Michell, you know he’s a tough guy,” says the champ. “He’s a beast for sure. I know he’s got good wrestling. I love to wrestle, you know? So, its gonna be a barnburner. I know he wants to scrap, and I love scrapping, so it’s on.”

Kade will be tested in a catchweight bout against Brazil’s Francisco Lo. “Very tricky guy, has some big wins,” he explains. “Finished recently some high-rank guys like Jacob Couch, and some other tough guys, so again, has some very slick submissions, so I gotta keep my ‘A’ game strong and stay alert and find his weaknesses.”

The Ruotolo Twins are also huge MMA fans. Expect one or both brothers to make an announcement very soon about the possibility of stepping into that arena. “It’s on the bucket list, and we need to check it off,” says Tye. For now, ONE Fight Night 21 is all consuming, but they are also looking forward to completing a new gym in Costa Rica where they hope to offer jiu-jitsu training camps that also offer yoga, surfing, and a chance to enjoy the warmer climate. For these athletes, the chance to spend some time in the sun and meet with friends and family is just as rewarding as dominating their respective grappling divisions. Right now, they are achieving both dreams.

Kade and Tye Ruotolo will both compete at ONE Fight Night 21 this Friday, April 5. The event will air live on Prime Video in the U.S./Canada beginning at 8pm ET.

For more info on the Ruotolo Twins click here!


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