Tye Ruotolo just made a huge statement by calling out Nicholas Meregali for his next matchup in the ONE Championship cage. He issued the challenge during his post-fight interview in the cage at ONE Fight Night 10, shortly after he defeated Reinier de Ridder by unanimous decision in his third match for the promotion. That moved his ONE Championship submission grappling record to a perfect 3-0, and he was asked to give his thoughts on his opponent during the interview:
“Man, first of all thanks to Reinier (de Ridder) for accepting the match. I called him out and he accepted it right away. You know, he’s a sick decorated double champ and he’s a good family guy. I’ve got a lot of respect for this guy, so thanks for taking the match and he did surprise me. He’s a little bit taller than I thought, reaching to his head was a bit of a challenge. But no excuses, I should have been able to finish the fight and I didn’t. That’s what I came here to do, so my next match here I wanna finish no matter what.”
It makes sense that Ruotolo was hungry for the finish against de Ridder, as he had finished both of his ONE Championship grappling matches up until that point. His most recent win before this was a beautiful triangle armbar finish against Marat Gafurov. Tye Ruotolo was also asked about who he wanted face in his next match for the promotion and he knew it was Nicholas Meregali without any hesitation:
“Man, I wanna keep taking out the big guys. I know that he trained with DDS (Danaher Death Squad), you know (Nicholas) Meregali and all those type of guys. So I wanna work my way up the ladder you know, Meregali’s next. He’s a bit bigger than Reinier even but I want his head, so Meregali’s next.”
There’s something of a rivalry developing between Ruotolo and the members of New Wave Jiu-Jitsu in fact. It goes back to his promotional debut at ONE 157 where he submitted Garry Tonon inside of just two minutes. Although de Ridder doesn’t officially represent or train at New Wave Jiu-Jitsu, he has conducted his training camp for this match there. If the match against Nicholas Meregali comes to fruition, this won’t be the first time that Tye Ruotolo has stood across from him on the mats either. The pair met in the absolute division of ADCC 2022, where they had an incredibly close match that Ruotolo almost finished at one point before losing a judge’s decision.
Ruotolo has also been vocal about calling out Gordon Ryan for a match in the past too, so it seems as if there might be a pattern here. Whether there is or isn’t any rivalry developing there, it’ll be incredibly interesting to watch a rematch between Tye Ruotolo and Nicholas Meregali regardless. Both men are at the very top of the game and are among the best competitors on the planet. Ruotolo has shown time and time again that he doesn’t mind being at a size disadvantage and Meregali has been vocal about struggling to get opponents lately, so the timing seems perfect.
The full ONE Fight Night 10 event, including the moment that Tye Ruotolo calls out Nicholas Meregali, was uploaded to the official YouTube channel of ONE Championship: