Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is filled with some of the most unique personalities in all of sports. It is perhaps one of the few martial arts out there that has attracted practitioners from all walks of life, from large athletic types like Nick Rodriguez, Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida, and Yuri Simoes, to the smaller and more cerebral competitors like ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Champion Mikey “Darth Rigatoni” Musumeci. While Mikey’s stature may not be as imposing as the others we mentioned, his ability on the mats is something to behold. Today, we’ll look into some of his best moments in competition.
A Master Of Gi Jiu-Jitsu
Mikey is the pound for pound and definitely one of the most technical BJJ competitors on the mats. His ability to create attacking opportunities from seemingly all positions makes him a dangerous opponent. He started out as a Gi competitor and has reached the pinnacle of the sport from a very young age, winning world championships from the colored belts up to the black belt. He started his training at the young age of 4 years old under the guidance of master Fernando “Cabeça.” He also received instruction from top-level athletes like the Mendes brothers of Art of Jiu Jitsu (AOJ), UFC fighter Gilbert Burns, IBJJF World Champion Caio Terra, and now Heath Pedigo of Pedigo Submission Fighting.
Here is a highlight of Mikey’s journey from his younger years to fighting the best of the best. His dynamic grappling style has been an integral part of his game from the beginning and has since developed into something special. Many of his trademark techniques are par for the course for athletes in his division. He likes playing guard to initiate his favorite attacks from the bottom. From there, he likes to go for his patented Berimbolo to take the opponent’s back.
Changing Of The Guard
Mikey’s rise to the top did not come easy, that’s for sure. His division has many amazing athletes with some of the best technical skills we’ll ever see. Typically, the lighter weight classes are where it’s at as far as BJJ techniques are concerned; this is the same case with Mikey and his contemporaries.
The big boss of the division, though, is none other than the great Bruno Malfacine. Malfacine is a 10-time IBJJF World Champion, IBJJF Hall of Famer, and seen by many as the greatest roosterweight of all time. His championship run is filled with dominant wins and is a masterclass in top-level technique.
This video captures Mikey’s journey going into his legendary match with Bruno Malfacine. Heath Pedigo coached Mikey here and gave excellent instruction every step of the way. As the video title says, greatness comes with a price. Work towards a goal and stay consistent throughout your preparation.
A Courageous Move To No-Gi Grappling
As mentioned earlier, he was primarily a Gi competitor for most of his career, but he has branched out and is now a very dangerous No-Gi fighter.
This is a video compilation of his matches under the FloGrappling banner a few years back. This was his big jump into the world of submission grappling, and what a memorable one! Mikey was immediately sent to the sharks of his division, fighting notable athletes like Geo Martinez, Lucas Pinheiro, Junny Ocasio, and more. Unsurprisingly, he passed these tests with flying colors, making him an instant star in the No-Gi world.
The Mikey Lock
Mikey Musumeci fought for the inaugural WNO Bantamweight title in 2021 against BJJ black belt Richard Alarcon. After several outside passing attempts from Richard Alarcon, Mikey was able to enter the legs and finish the match with his unique leg attack known as the “Mikey Lock”.
Mikey Musumeci Signs With ONE Championship
His move to the Singapore-based promotion ONE Championship made a lot of buzz in the martial arts community. At this point, ONE Championship started to focus more on other combat sports besides MMA, including submission grappling. Naturally, many exceptional grapplers took the call and became even bigger stars under the ONE banner.
As expected, many opponents were hungry to test their skills against the American grappler. Mikey’s first match was none other than Japanese leg locker Masakazu Imanari. Imanari is a pioneer of Asian MMA known for his aggressive attacking style and intense leg locks. Also, Masakazu Imanari is the inventor of the infamous “Imanari Roll“, a rolling entry typically used for leg attacks. Mikey tapped the Japanese fighter via rear-naked choke (RNC) and won the $50,000 ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus as a result.
His next opponent was Cleber Sousa, a tough grappler known for his uncompromising style. Mikey and Cleber had a very fun match that lasted 10 minutes. Mikey got his hand raised and won the inaugural ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Championship.
Mikey faced many challengers after this, but we’d like to highlight his recent match against another Japanese legend Shinya Aoki. They competed in ONE Fight Night 15 last October 7, 2023, and it was a match to remember. For those who don’t know, Shinya Aoki is a world-class BJJ and Judo black belt who has been competing professionally since 2003. He is a former DREAM Lightweight Champion, former two-time ONE Lightweight MMA World Champion, former WAMMA Lightweight Champion, and former Shooto Welterweight Champion. He is an absolute legend in all regards.
Both athletes wowed the crowd with their skills. In the end, Mikey took home the win by submitting Shinya using his trademark move, the nasty leg lock known as the “Aoki Lock”.
Look at how Mikey entered the legs from the guard. It was practically game over as soon as he controlled Shinya’s legs. A fantastic performance yet again by the ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Champion.
Mikey Musumeci’s evolution in the sport is nothing short of extraordinary. These highlights serve as a glimpse into his achievements, and we hope they inspire you to follow your dreams just like Mikey did. If you want to try Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, we encourage you to visit your local academy and check out their classes. There’s no better New Year’s resolution than to begin training this fantastic martial art!
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