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The elite competitors of the lightest weight divisions are often revered for their impassible guards and their abilities to take their opponents’ backs from anywhere. Roosterweights, light featherweights, and featherweights like Mikey Musumeci, Paulo Miyao, and Mayssa Bastos are back attack artists who rely on intricate guards and techniques to get behind their opponents.
When we watch a featherweight match, we expect to see competitors jockeying for bottom position, and refusing to come to the top without a clear cut path to their opponents’ backs.
Although we rarely see it, those same competitors have world-class pressure passing pedigrees. Their strategies often lead them to favor pulling guard and chasing the back, but given the opportunity, some of the lightest competitors have proven the ability to apply crushing pressure.
We've aggregated five of the most memorable recent examples of pressure passing from feather, light feather and roosterweights.
Paulo Miyao's Pressure Passing Mastery vs Pablo Mantovani at 2019 Worlds
Paulo Miyao used the threat of the back take to earn top position against Pablo Mantovani. He landed in a leg drag with two crucial grips which allowed him to sustain pressure through the passing sequence. With his left hand on Mantovani's right lapel and his right hand behind Mantovani's hips, Paulo closed distance and kept Mantovani's spine contorted.
Paulo's head position is crucial here. He began with his head beneath Mantovani's chin. When he was nearly through the guard, Paulo repositioned his head behind Mantovani to threaten a backtake again. He toggled his head behind and in front of Mantovani, constantly posing a dual threat of back take and guard pass until he finally settled into a scoring position.
Lucas Pinheiro Uses Heavy Pressure To Stifle The 50-50 Guard Of Jonas Andrade
In the roosterweight finals at 2020 Pans, Pinheiro entered a pseudo-leg drag as Andrade tried to lock up 50-50. Pinheiro kept his right hand behind Andrade's collar and leaned his hips heavy behind Andrade's knee to keep Andrade pinned on his shoulders. While Pinheiro wasn't able to finish the pass, he kept his opponent smashed underneath, searching for last-ditch opportunities to create space. Watch as he methodically climbed his grips and his torso into a higher position on Andrade without ever alleviating pressure. In the final sequence, he prioritized upper body control instead of focusing on freeing his trapped leg, as the latter option may have given Andrade the much-needed momentum to create space.
Mayssa Bastos Puts Pati Fontes Under Heavy Pressure
In another finals match from 2020 Pans, Mayssa Bastos got her hips free of Pati Fontes' guard. She quickly leaned forward, but only had a collar grip. This was sub-optimal control for a pin, but she focused on getting her leg free, nonetheless. Mayssa's grips allowed Pati to turn to her knees. As she did, Mayssa jumped to try to take her back. When Pati wiggled free, Mayssa returned to her pressure passing game, this time, with more controlling grips around Pati's shoulders and head. These grips allowed her to project her entire body forward, where she locked in an ezekiel choke.
Mikey's Guard Passing At The 2020 IBJJF Foley Open
It appears Mikey Musumeci prefers to pass from inside the half guard. Here, in a recent clip from the Foley Open, Mikey dove into half guard, getting a high collar grip and a tight waist to keep his opponent boxed in. With these tight grips, he stepped over the top. Even though his opponent was able to get his legs back inside of Mikey's, Mikey's grips allowed him to shut down all defensive movement. When the guard player made a last-ditch explosive movement, Mikey landed directly in mount, and soon, on the back.
Mikey Puts His Guard Passing On Display At Euros 2020
In a similar sequence earlier this year at Euros, Mikey dug his way into the half guard of Suraj Kumar Budhram. His right hand was quick to secure a tight waist around Budhram's hips, and he fought with his left for a high collar control. From there, Mikey proceeded through with the knee cut pass, so that when Budhram turned to his knees to prevent points, Mikey had a strong grip to dive over the top for back control.
Joao Miyao's Pressure Passing Masterclass
Want a featherweight pressure passing walkthrough? Joao Miyao gave us a passing masterclass a few years ago. You can see seven of his favorite passes and drills here: