Putting a teenager up against an established adult in a combat sport might seem like a risky decision, but Fight 2 Win CEO Seth Daniels is used to risky decisions. So he upped the ante and put a teenager up against Vagner Rocha: champion in the art of Slapping the Crap Out of People and outspoken advocate for making jiu-jitsu more violent. Now, in just hours, we’ll be able to see what happens when Rocha goes head-to-head in a sub-only match with 16-year-old ADCC standout Tye Ruotolo at F2W 131.
Rocha is no ordinary grappler, but then, Ruotolo is no ordinary teenager. The Atos athlete and his twin brother Kade have been training since they were just three years old, meaning that they have thirteen years of jiu-jitsu experience to use to their advantage. They’ve already established themselves as two of the top rising stars in grappling, and Tye in particular shot his own star even higher at the end of September, when he made it all the way to the semifinals at ADCC. He told the Jiu-Jitsu Times that the experience has changed his life “a lot.”
“I have been offered more super fights than I had before. Also against high-level guys,” he says. “My brother and I train with beasts all day over at Atos and we know our level is at the top.”
The Ruotolo brothers have always taken their training seriously, and Tye says that even as kids, they were training once or twice a day. “My brother and I have always been really competitive with each other in training and I think that’s one of the reasons why we were advanced at an early age,” he says. “We are always pushing each other to get better. We are more passionate about jiu-jitsu today than ever before. I think it’s because of the turning point from kid to adult that’s really exciting now.”
No one could blame the twins for getting sick of BJJ after spending their entire childhood doing it, but thirteen years of training has helped Tye and Kade figure out the right way to train to become elite athletes even at a young age. “We also like to do other sports like surfing and skating,” says Tye. “It helps us keep a great balance in our life. We don’t ever get burnt out on jiu-jitsu because of that.”
Oh, and if you think Tye is intimidated by Rocha, you have the wrong idea. He’s very much looking forward to his match tonight, even though Rocha — the only top-level grappler who accepted the match with Ruotolo — isn’t who he expected to face in the main event. “[Rocha] is an accomplished veteran of the sport and he’s super tough,” says Tye. “I actually like his style of fighting; mine is a little similar, so I’m excited to test my skills against him.”
Make sure you’re watching tonight when Ruotolo vs. Rocha and many other exciting matches stream live from Fight 2 Win 131 exclusively on FloGrappling!