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Until recently, Dante Leon could have been considered a gatekeeper in the 77 kg division. He could tear through the early stages of brackets, but often faltered when paired against more noteworthy opponents. The Canadian seemed to find his stride a few months before ADCC last year, and has been dismantling some of the most talented lightweights in submission grappling ever since.
A 2019 No-Gi World Champion, the No. 4-ranked 77 kg athlete is a shining proponent of wrestle-jitsu. There’s no better example of this than his last Who’s Number One match against Garry Tonon. That showdown remains a clear contender for match of the year, but that’s typical of Dante’s high-energy style.
Dante returns for Who’s Number One: Gordon Ryan vs Matheus Diniz on October 2 to take on 2019 EBI Combat Jiu-Jitsu World Champion Kody Steele.
Like Leon, Steele likes to integrate wrestling and ground work, and likes to create scrambles to find openings.
No doubt, Dante will be looking for another sensational performance, and a finish.
As an appetizer, we’ve put together our four favorite Dante Leon finishes so far!
Watch: WNO: Gordon Ryan vs Matheus Diniz LIVE on FloGrappling on Friday, October 2nd
Dante will punish a lapse in defense
He caught Matheus Lutes with his defense down at Kasai Dallas, and didn't hesitate to capitalize, collecting a choke finish.
The neck is never safe
Dante timed this counter attack perfectly. Isaque Bahiense shot for a double leg and Dante wrapped up the neck immediately for a quick guillotine tap.
It’s simple, really: wrestle up and go behind
At Kasai 5, Leon repeatedly demonstrated his ability to wrestle up from the bottom against Edwin Najmi. Every time he seemed to get the ahead, the match went out of bounds. Ulitmately, Leon countered Najmi's double-leg with a chin strap and then circled behind him, sinking in the rear naked choke for the tap.
Once the submission attempts start, they don’t stop
When Dante starts attacking, he stays ahead by chaining submission attempts together. Against Johnny Tama, he stitched several passing attempts together before setting his sights on the back. When Tama defended his back, Dante snagged a triangle from an unusual position and finished the choke.
Bonus: Dante is up for the challenge
Although it wasn't a submission victory, his win over Lucas Lepri at ADCC 2019 was a major milestone, and needs to be included on this list. This match was trademark Dante: wrestle up, take the back, control the pace.