Kade Ruotolo and Tommy Langaker met in the co-main event of ONE Fight Night 11 on June 9th, 2023 and both men left it all on the mats to try and win the lightweight world championship. Ruotolo was the reigning champion after he won the title by submitting Uali Kurzhev in just a few minutes back at ONE on Prime Video 3. Although he only won the inaugural title at the beginning of 2023, Ruotolo had already made a successful title-defense as well. He defeated Matheus Gabriel by decision back at ONE on Prime Video 5 and although he wasn’t able to finish his opponent, he was relentless in pursuing the finish.
Langaker was coming into this match undefeated in ONE Championship too and he has also quickly earned a reputation as an exciting competitor after his debut win against Renato Canuto. That was a great start to his career for the Asian MMA promotion, but the match that clinched him the title-shot came much later. Langaker also submitted Uali Kurzhev at ONE Fight Night 7, and in even less time than Ruotolo. He’d earned the right to challenge him for the lightweight title and a match between them was all-but guaranteed to produce fireworks for the fans, so the promotion booked it for ONE Fight Night 11.
Kade Ruotolo and Tommy Langaker started battling in the clinch immediately at ONE Fight Night 11 and they clearly both wanted the takedown, but it was Ruotolo who hit a slide-by and ended up on top after about a minute of wrestling. Langaker was working from butterfly half-guard originally but as Ruotolo stood up to pass, he managed to invert and get a really deep bite on a heel hook. Ruotolo eventually managed to free himself and countered with a slick back-take, but Langaker defended and ended up on bottom as a result.
Ruotolo got back to working for the pass but Langaker was transitioning between guards flawlessly in order to keep him at bay and try to get his own offense going. Langaker got another entry and briefly attempted a straight ankle-lock but Ruotolo sat down and started working on a counter that forced him to disengage. Ruotolo came up on top to start passing for a moment before dropping back on a heel hook attempt, although Langaker defended comfortably and escaped.
Ruotolo kept the pressure on Langaker though and he was using his leg-pin passing system to try and neutralize his guard. That gave Langaker the opportunity to transition to X-guard, although he wasn’t able to off-balance Ruotolo enough to prevent him from stripping the hooks off. Ruotolo returned to trying to pressure through Langaker’s guard but he wasn’t able to get anywhere near a full pass, thanks to some excellent work from Z-guard and reverse De La Riva.
Ruotolo snatched a straight ankle-lock and tried to crank on it from the top without much control of the legs, but Langaker looked unphased by the attempt. Langaker transitioned to a heel hook attempt as he escaped but Ruotolo countered with another back-take. He couldn’t quite secure the position though and had to scramble to top position when Langaker threatened with a counter-berimbolo of his own. Langaker inverted for another heel hook from the bottom and although he kept the knee-line well, he couldn’t quite get the bite on the heel with how well Ruotolo was defending.
Ruotolo tried another back-take but it was much further away this time so he stood back up and got back to work trying to pass Langaker’s guard. Langaker inverted again but couldn’t get anything going as the match between him and Ruotolo ran out of time. The two men were determined to be even on legitimate submission attempts, and Kade Ruotolo was awarded the unanimous decision victory over Tommy Langaker at ONE Fight Night 11 due to aggression.
The full match between Kade Ruotolo and Tommy Langaker, and the rest of the ONE Fight Night 11 event, was uploaded to the official YouTube channel of ONE Championship: