Reigning ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Champion Mikey “Darth Rigatoni” Musumeci is less than two weeks away from the stiffest challenge of his ONE tenure.
On May 5 at ONE Fight Night 10: Johnson vs. Moraes III on Prime Video, the American phenom will defend his gold against 2022 IBJJF No-Gi Black Belt World Champion Osamah Almarwai in a 10-minute showdown that promises to deliver high-paced action.
Adding to the excitement, their high-stakes bout will kick off a trio of World Title headliners at ONE’s historic sold-out debut on United States soil at 1stBank Center in Colorado.
For Musumeci, this matchup is exactly the type of difficult test he craves.
In fact, he specifically asked to face the dangerous Almarwai just minutes after successfully defending his World Title at ONE Fight Night 6 in January.
But while some callouts are rooted in bad blood, “Darth Rigatoni” instead has the utmost respect for the Yemeni star and his impressive technical acumen.
Musumeci told ONEFC.com:
“Osamah is an intelligent fighter. He has a high IQ, for sure. He’s very strategic in what he does and when he does it. He has a good kiss of the dragon [back-take technique] and a good foot lock. He has some good attacks. And he’s a finisher. He’s finished a lot of matches.”
Indeed, Almarwai might be one of the few men in the sport who can match the reigning titleholder’s aggressive submission-hunting approach to BJJ.
Rather than fear his opponent’s elite abilities, Musumeci says he’s looking forward to seeing how his own skills and techniques will fare against a world-class grappler who’s not afraid to engage:
“I want to see his reactions to what I’m working on. I want to see if he gives me something I didn’t take into account when I was training. Because I obsess about every possible reaction my opponent can give me and if I have an answer to that. So these guys that are training for me are preparing to try to give me reactions I’m not used to.
“That’s why I love these matches. I love fighting someone that actually does jiu-jitsu and won’t just kick away and run away the whole time.”
For the flyweight submission grappling king, every battle inside the Circle is like a game of human chess, requiring calculated actions and reactions in rapid succession.
It’s this back-and-forth that drives the 26-year-old’s lifelong obsession with BJJ. And while he’s not entirely sure how this highly anticipated World Title match will play out, Musumeci vows to chase the submission from start to finish.
“Darth Rigatoni” said:
“I’m going to be attacking every second. My style is just to go forward and attack for the kill every second. So the question is going to be: Does Osamah have counters to my attacks? And do I have answers to his counters? Do I? I prepare every second to [hopefully have them]. I’m on the mat every second, studying and trying to figure out every reaction the person could give me when I’m attacking them.”
Musumeci Embraces ONE’s Submission-Only Rule Set
Given the aggressive grappling styles of both competitors in this World Title contest, Mikey Musumeci is thrilled that their clash on May 5 is taking place under ONE’s submission-only rule set.
Instead of worrying about scoring points or securing minor positional advantages to eke out a victory, the New Jersey native says he feels free when competing in the Circle to attack for a submission at will:
“Well, the rules of ONE Championship, I don’t have to play strategically with points. I don’t have to think of all these different strategies and advantages. And I could just go in and try to finish the fight.”
Given that freedom, “Darth Rigatoni” admits that against Almarwai, fans could catch a glimpse of his rarely seen top game.
But whether he’s attacking from his vaunted guard or applying pressure from the top position, Musumeci is prepared for everything – and ready to prove he’s the planet’s top pound-for-pound submission grappler.
“I don’t really care where the fight is. Am I a wrestler? Definitely not. But when I’m talking about pure jiu-jitsu on the floor, I don’t care if I’m on top. I don’t care if I’m on the bottom. I’m prepared to go anywhere in this match. I told you, I study this all day, and I’m really excited.”