ONE Welterweight Submission Grappling World Champion Tye Ruotolo will make his first title defense on a historic night in the Middle East.
The 20-year-old BJJ prodigy will put his gold on the line against Australian grappling superstar Izaak Michell at ONE 166: Qatar, the promotion’s first event in the country, which emanates live from Lusail Sports Arena on Friday, March 1.
Ruotolo – the youngest IBJJF World Champion in history – has been an image of perfection since making his promotional debut at ONE 157 in May 2022, where he submitted Garry Tonon with his signature D’Arce choke.
The California native’s path of grappling destruction would only intensify. In addition to tapping out former ONE Featherweight MMA World Champion Marat Gafurov and lightweight standout Dagi Arslanaliev, he edged out reigning ONE Middleweight MMA World Champion Reinier de Ridder in a grappling super-fight.
At ONE Fight Night 16 last November, Ruotolo finally struck gold in the world’s largest martial arts organization, as he manhandled Magomed Abdulkadirov to claim a unanimous decision victory and capture the inaugural ONE Welterweight Submission Grappling World Title.
Now, he is ready to defend his coveted belt. However, the American’s forthcoming opponent will undoubtedly be the toughest test of his promotional tenure.
Michell has been a constant force in the grappling circuit, and he is widely recognized as one of the top no-gi athletes on the planet today.
The 25-year-old Australian already has an impressive resume. He is a two-time ADCC Asia & Oceania Trials gold medalist who owns victories over current IBJJF No-Gi World Champion Roberto Jimenez and IBJJF Gi World Champion Jansen Gomes.
What’s more, he brings a six-bout winning streak into his first ONE Championship appearance.
Grappling enthusiasts have been waiting to see this match ever since Ruotolo politely called out Michell following his victory over Arslanaliev last August. And now, the stakes are higher than ever.
The California BJJ phenom has a chance to further cement himself as one of the greatest pound-for-pound competitors in the sport today. As for Michell, he could make the most of his promotional debut by handing Ruotolo his first loss in the organization and leaving the Circle with ONE World Title gold.
Stay tuned to onefc.com for more details about ONE 166: Qatar.