The 3 Best Styles That Succeed In Submission Grappling

Mikey Musumeci Osamah Almarwai ONE Fight Night 10 36

ONE 167: Stamp vs. Zamboanga on Prime Video will play host to a massively anticipated bantamweight submission grappling showdown between reigning ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Champion Mikey Musumeci and the last man to defeat him, promotional newcomer Gabriel Sousa.

That battle goes down live in U.S. primetime on Friday, June 7, from Bangkok, Thailand’s Impact Arena and represents an intriguing clash of polar opposite grappling styles.

Ahead of the much-anticipated rematch between two of the planet’s top pound-for-pound ground fighters, we look at three of the best styles to succeed in submission grappling.

Guard Players

“Darth Rigatoni” embodies the quintessential world-class guard player.

In general, strong guard players are well-versed in a wide variety of attacks from their back, whether that means hunting for armbars and triangles from the closed guard, looking for leg entanglements from the open guard, or – in the case of Musumeci and his specialty – inverting upside down to take the back with a berimbolo.

Because guard players don’t have gravity on their side, it’s absolutely imperative that they are supremely offensively minded, never allowing their opponents to pressure them flat on their backs.

Like Musumeci, the best guard players in the world are a seemingly impossible puzzle to solve and possess a multitude of attacks from their backs, no matter how the top player approaches.

Guard Passers

Sousa, on the other hand, is one of grappling’s most effective and relentless guard passers.

Unlike guard players, passers work almost exclusively from the top position where they employ speedy movement on the outside, heavy pressure on the inside, or a combination of both. The guard passer’s ultimate goal is to achieve a dominant position before securing the submission.

In Sousa’s case, he is a master at constantly moving from side to side – and he does it at a blistering, exhausting pace. With this approach, he can typically wear down even the most skilled guard players before passing to either side-control or the back position, where he is an elite submission artist.

Despite the physically imposing nature of guard passing, make no mistake, the best passers are world-class technicians as well.

Submission Hunters

While both guard players and passers are always in search of the submission, some grapplers are pure submission hunters, capable of ending the match at a moment’s notice from practically any position.

One example of a submission hunter is reigning ONE Welterweight Submission Grappling World Champion Tye Ruotolo. Across six appearances in the world’s largest martial arts organization, the 21-year-old phenom has proven himself to be dangerous in all areas and with a variety of attacks.

To that end, he boasts four submission victories in ONE, including two chokes from the back, a D’arce choke, and an armbar from his back.

What’s more, Ruotolo – as well as his twin brother and ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Champion Kade Ruotolo – are world-class leg lockers, making them perhaps the planet’s most well-rounded submission hunters.

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