Tezos WNO 21: Pedro Marinho vs Rafael Lovato Jr.

WNO 21 Preview: Breaking Down The Baby Shark x Pato Matches

WNO 21 Preview: Breaking Down The Baby Shark x Pato Matches

Who holds the edge in the Baby Shark x Pato rivalry? We broke down the tactics in their first 4 matches to figure out before they meet again at WNO

Nov 28, 2023 by Joe Gilpin
WNO 21 Preview: Breaking Down The Baby Shark x Pato Matches

With only a few days until the action kicks off, interest is reaching a fever pitch in the card on Tezos WNO 21: Marinho vs Lovato. While there have been some changes to the card, there are still three incredible title fights including the first featherweight defense of Diogo "Baby Shark" Reis. The ADCC & WNO Champion will be facing off with a familiar foe when he takes on Diego "Pato" Oliveira in fifteen minute super fight action.

Get your tickets here for Tezos WNO 21 on Nov. 30

Diogo and Diego have faced off four times and are tied 2-2, so this fifth match for the WNO Championship is incredibly important in determining who is the best between them (and the best in the world). With different rulesets and switching between gi and no-gi, it's become a really interesting rivalry - so let's take a look at each match to understand what we can expect when they face off this Thursday.

Match 1: 2022 ADCC Brazilian Trials

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Interestingly, this was the only no-gi meeting between the two so far so it may be the most instructive to their WNO contest. Pato entered as the more known competitor and the favorite, but Baby Shark picked up the decision victory (and would of course go on to win the World Championships as well).

Here are some of our biggest takeaways from the Trials finals match;

  • Pato, known more for his guard work, did come out and score the early takedown in the no-points period with a blast double leg. His best passing work from top came from the knee slide and body lock positions where he was trying to weave his knees through the guard.
  • Any leg entanglement from Pato (his specialty) was shut down quickly with a limp leg-style escape from Baby Shark. 
  • Diogo really started to push the pace later in the match. This was Pato early, Baby Shark late.
  • Diogo's takedowns and wrestling shined here, paying off with a near back take in OT that sealed the win for him.

Match 2: 2022 IBJJF World Championships
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Their first rematch came later that year in the semifinals of the 2022 IBJJF World Championships, now in the gi. 

Here are some of our biggest takeaways from the World semifinals match;

  • Diogo, always a premier strategist, scored first on an advantage for coming up on the double guard pull. From there though, he had trouble passing against the double sleeve work of Pato.
  • Pato used the double sleeve to switch between lasso guard on the left or right side. Using this, he was able to manage the match and prevent Diogo from being able to get his loose passing going. He clearly had a lot more respect for Diogo's skills after coming out so aggressively at Trials.
  • Late in the match, Pato finally made his move when he switched from the double sleeve into lapel guard. He fed into squid guard and then used that position to enter into K guard - where he could pull into 50/50. 
  • Usually Diogo's base is unbreakable, but Pato from 50/50 was able to control the pants on the far side. That meant no base was possible, and Pato scored his points. Diogo tried to come back to score his own sweep, but he didn't have this grip and couldn't break Pato's position before time ran out.

Match 3: 2023 IBJJF Pan Championships

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With their series now tied 1-1, Baby Shark and Pato met again in the finals of the 2022 IBJJF Pan Championships. Since their last match, Diogo had won ADCC Worlds and had tons of momentum in his career.

  • Early in the match, from the same double pull they had three different scoring situations. First, Pato scored on a toe hold that earned him an advantage. Then, they sat in the double pull so long that they both got a penalty. Finally, Diogo came up and earned his advantage. Still, the result was a tied match a minute in and Pato in guard.
  • From guard, Pato went to that same double sleeve strategy that paid off in 2022 but did open up with K guard entries and a collar sleeve open guard where he was launching into attempted omoplata. A near omoplata with 3:30 left forced a big reaction from Baby Shark where he cartwheeled out of the position early enough to avoid too much danger.
  • From top, Diogo kept working to break grips and throw by into a passing sequence with mixed results. Diogo's loose passing style uses the shin pin position really well, stepping on a free leg to hold it down as he navigates to a stronger position. Using this as a little help in the gi creates more opportunities to set himself up for the cross pant grip passing position he likes so much.
  • With two minutes left, Pato was able to transition back into his squid guard where he was so effective at 2022 Worlds. Just like the year before, he used that to invert around the leg in a K guard entry. This time, though, Diogo didn't let him pass the leg across into 50/50. This subtle balance shift left Pato having to readjust and in that time Baby Shark jumped. He moved back into loose passing range and threw the legs by into side control for enough control for a deciding advantage.
  • Pato spent the final minute working to invert around again but Diogo was able to shut down that offense and won the Pan Championship - his biggest accomplishment to date in the gi and one that came from his technical adjustment.

Match 4: 2023 IBJJF World Championships

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At this point, it's a full-blown rivalry when Baby Shark and Pato met for the fourth time at IBJJF Worlds in 2023. Pato won last year but Baby Shark at Pans, so coming in this was expected to be one of the most even matches of the semifinal round.

  • Again early in this match, Diogo Reis was happy to come up for the advantage but quickly after Pato swept his way on top - which he hadn't been quick to do in their prior 2 matches.
  • Diogo worked off his back from a single leg X guard, often using double sleeve grips to help him retain position. When Baby Shark did settle into the legs, he wrestled up into a sweep but again quickly conceded top position. Strategically, he was waiting to take advantage late in the match when Pato wouldn't be able to score back.
  • Finally with a little more than two minutes left, Diogo did score the sweep he wanted but again just couldn't stay on top as Pato swept right back - this time working into a strong over under passing position that broke Baby Shark's rhythm.
  • In the final two minutes, action really heated up. Diogo launched a triangle attempt, then transitioned into a K guard entry of his own that he pulled into 50/50. Again, like their 2022 Worlds fight, Diogo tried to sweep but Pato based out too well. Here, though, Baby Shark used that base to try to take the back twice in the final minute but was ultimately unable to secure both hooks. He would get two advantages for wrestling up and nearly taking the back, but lost on points because of Pato's 50/50 prowess.

Overall Takeaways

These are two of the best in the world at any style, and their rivalry has been full of intense scrambles, close matches, and great action. Now, Baby Shark and Pato will face off under WNO rules where there won't be advantages or penalty points to worry about. Instead, it will be fifteen minutes of no-gi action that will break the 2-2 series tie these two hold.

This has been a series defined by tactics on both sides. Baby Shark and Pato have both used their guard to conserve energy for key sweeping opportunities, and showed a willingness to wrestle and play guard across the rivalry. While the majority of time was spent with Pato playing guard and working for K guard inversions that would land him in 50/50, Diogo worked well from top giving pressure, loose passing, and creating back exposure.

Who will emerge victorious from their championship bout? Find out this Thursday when these two world-class featherweights lock horns to settle the score.

Tezos WNO 21: Marinho vs Lovato Full Card

  • Light Heavyweight WNO Championship Bout - Pedro Marinho (C) vs Rafael Lovato Jr.
  • Welterweight WNO Championship Bout - Mica Galvao (C) vs Kody Steele
  • Featherweight WNO Championship Bout - Diogo 'Baby Shark' Reis (C) vs Diego 'Pato' Oliveira
  • Heavyweight Bout - Giancarlo Bodoni vs Lucas Barbosa
  • Middleweight Bout - Tainan Dalpra vs Troy Russell
  • Women's Featherweight Bout - Helena Crevar vs Julia Maele
  • Heavyweight Bout - Luke Griffith vs Roosevelt Souza
  • Prelim Featherweight Bout - Owen Jones vs Dominic Mejia
  • Prelim Lightweight Bout - Estevan Martinez vs Reese Lafever
  • Prelim Welterweight Bout - Ian Butler vs Nick Mataya
  • Prelim Women's Strawweight Bout - Mia Funegra vs Janice Russell