The match at ONE on Prime Video 2 will be the organization’s first-ever Submission Grappling World Title fight and the pair’s third encounter after going 1-1 against each other in 2017.
If jiu-jitsu is “human chess,” then Musumeci and Sousa are two of the world’s sharpest players.
Both men are technicians of the highest degree, and their rubber match will be a beautiful display of that incredible technique.
Here, we break down the biggest keys to victory for each grappling phenom at ONE on Prime Video 2.
Musumeci’s Creative Back-Takes
“Darth Rigatoni” is a technical wizard who is perhaps best known for unique and innovative ways to take his opponent’s back.
Whether he’s attacking from his open guard or top position, Musumeci almost always has a path to the back – the most dominant position in submission grappling.
From the guard, the American utilizes one of the world’s best berimbolos, an advanced technique in which the guard player inverts upside down.
Musumeci is an equally dangerous back-taker from the top. In his sensational ONE Championship debut, he seemed to effortlessly take Japanese legend Masakazu Imanari’s back while passing the guard.
In his trilogy match against Sousa, watch for the New Jersey native to set traps and use creative techniques.
Sousa’s Methodical Guard-Passing
If their first two matches were any indication, the third showdown between “Darth Rigatoni” and “Clandestino” will play out with Musumeci attacking from his guard while Sousa attempts to pass.
For the Brazilian to find success, he must go into and through Musumeci’s vaunted guard.
Sousa would be wise to approach that guard aggressively but also with patience, as a single error could cost him the match. Look for him to keep a low base and try to control Musumeci’s hips from top position as he works toward a pass.
If “Clandestino” is able to stay safe inside the American’s guard and consistently apply pressure from the top, he may be able to wear down his foe over the course of the 10-minute match, eventually securing a clean pass.
‘Darth Rigatoni’s’ Leg Lock Game
Musumeci holds the record for the fastest-ever submission in an IBJJF World Championship Final with his 12-second straight ankle lock.
Then last year, he unveiled a unique modified heel hook dubbed the “Mikey Lock.”
Simply put, “Darth Rigatoni” is one of the world’s best leg-lockers, and he is likely to hold an advantage over Sousa in that department.
Part of what makes Musumeci’s guard so difficult to pass is his ability to threaten multiple attacks at the same time, and his leg locks are a perfect example of this concept.
When Musumeci attacks the upper body with triangle chokes or omoplatas, his opponents often stand or posture up – thereby making their legs available.
The American will likely go after Sousa’s legs early and often. At the very least, this approach will slow down the Brazilian’s advances. And in the best-case scenario, Musumeci will achieve a leg entanglement and finish the match by leg lock.
Sousa’s Intelligent Risk-Taking
In his first two clashes with Musumeci, Sousa acquitted himself well by avoiding the most serious submission threats while maintaining a strong base.
In the third encounter, “Clandestino” must be willing to take more risks – but only at the opportune times.
Sousa is a technical grappler, and it’s not in his nature to be reckless. But with that said, he would be well-served to use bursts of activity and aggression, especially right after Musumeci attacks.
Moreover, ONE’s submission-only rule set encourages more risk-taking.
Sousa should certainly stay safe and work patiently inside Musumeci’s guard, but if he’s able to pass, he must immediately hunt for a submission, rather than invest more energy into securing the position.
This approach will not only score well with the judges, but it will also keep “Darth Rigatoni” on the defensive.