2023 Submission of the Year: Roberto Jimenez chokes out Roosevelt Sousa to win absolute gold

Roberto Jimenez scored an incredible come-from-behind choke on Roosevelt Sousa to earn Submission of the Year honors.

There was no shortage of highlight-reel submissions in 2023. From ADCC champions being tapped to flying armbars and smother taps, jiu-jitsu fans were treated to a wide variety of dramatic and eye-catching submissions last year.

Among those submissions, one stands out above the rest as the most impressive, dramatic, and unforgettable. 

Roberto Jimenez’s one-armed rear-naked choke finish against Roosevelt Sousa in the final of the absolute division at the IBJJF No-Gi Worlds is Grappling Insider’s 2023 Submission of the Year.

Roberto Jimenez submits Roosevelt Sousa

The 23-year-old Ecuadorian came into the absolute final riding a wave of momentum, submitting four consecutive opponents – including a heavyweight ADCC veteran, an ADCC silver medalist, and a 2023 no-gi Pans champion.

Against the hulking Sousa, Jimenez would give up a significant size advantage. 

The match played out as some of the most thrilling two-and-a-half minutes of grappling seen all year.

Jimenez started in his typical, torrid fashion, applying constant pressure and side-to-side movement as he looked to pass Sousa’s guard. Early on, Sousa countered a guard pass attempt with a beautiful back-take. From there, he attacked an armbar that looked to be fully locked in.

Miraculously, Jimenez escaped the armbar. He immediately put his foot on the gas pedal to force Sousa on the defensive. In a matter of seconds, Jimenez used a stack pass to take his foe’s back, trap an arm, and sink in the match-ending choke with one hand.

The submission was exceptional for several reasons. First, there was a David-versus-Goliath dynamic at play, as Sousa looked to be the significantly larger athlete. Also, the match itself delivered tons of drama, with a massive swing in momentum in just moments. 

What’s more, the submission was a gorgeous display of elite technique, from the back-take to the arm trap to the finish itself – all of which capped Jimenez’s epic run through the absolute division.

Jimenez recently spoke to Grappling Insider about his match with Sousa.

2023 Submission of the Year honorable mentions

Nicholas Meregali submits Kaynan Duarte with an arm triangle at WNO: In perhaps his biggest win of an impressive year, Meregali took out the multiple-time ADCC champion with an arm triangle to establish himself as the sport’s top heavyweight grappler.

Elisabeth Clay submits Ffion Davies with a toehold at Polaris: Clay stunned the reigning ADCC champion in the second round of the Polaris grand prix, using a false reap entry to secure a spectacular toehold. 

Mica Galvao submits PJ Barch with a flying armbar at WNO: The Brazilian phenom captured the vacant WNO welterweight title with an explosive, high-flying armbar on the dangerous 10th Planet veteran.

Jasmine Rocha submits Amanda Bruse with a smother WNO: While smother taps (AKA “mother’s milk”) were popular in 2023, they were rarely seen in the lighter weight classes. Rocha proved the flyweights could be just as dangerous with this move, as she secured the tap in the final seconds of a 15-minute war with Bruse.

Tainan Dalpra submits Andy Murasaki with a triangle choke at IBJJF: The Crown: The Art of Jiu-Jitsu product turned a near-guard pass into a beautiful triangle choke in the final of the IBJJF’s first installment of The Crown.

Rafael Lovato Jr submits Elder Cruz with a rear-naked choke at WNO: The Oklahoma native turned back father time to secure a dramatic finish in front of his hometown crowd.

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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