‘I’m Grateful For It’ – How Mikey Musumeci Uses Immense Pressure To Achieve Greatness
As the best pound-for-pound submission grappler on the planet, Mikey “Darth Rigatoni” Musumeci feels a unique responsibility to elevate his sport to new heights.
He’ll soon enjoy another opportunity to do just that when he defends his ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Title against reigning strawweight MMA king Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks at ONE Fight Night 13 on Prime Video, which broadcasts live in U.S. primetime from the iconic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, this Friday, August 4.
Musumeci is entering the co-main event showdown with tremendous momentum.
In his most recent outing this past May, the 27-year-old submitted Osamah Almarwai – the first-ever IBJJF Black Belt World Champion from the Middle East – via rear-naked choke at ONE Fight Night 10, which marked the organization’s first show on American soil.
Though Musumeci was thrilled to leave Colorado’s 1stBank Center with the victory, he admittedly felt pressure to deliver a stellar performance in front of a sold-out crowd full of his compatriots.
“Competing in Denver was such a crazy experience for me. It was ONE Championship’s debut in the U.S., so we had so much pressure, and we did it. The American fans loved it. I’m from America. It’s my country. And it was just an honor for me to be a part of that card.”
For his efforts that night, Musumeci was awarded a US$50,000 performance bonus.
Of course, “Darth Rigatoni” was happy to take home some extra cash – and there’s no doubt that he’ll buy lots of pizza and pasta with that money. But more than just padding his wallet, Musumeci sees the bonus as proof that he put on an entertaining show.
And considering that he shared the card with some of the world’s biggest MMA, Muay Thai, and kickboxing superstars, the American feels proud to have represented submission grappling well.
“When we get bonuses, when MMA, Muay Thai, and kickboxing fans can actually enjoy watching jiu-jitsu, it means a lot to me. [It means] that I’m able to be a part of this and that future generations that do jiu-jitsu can also benefit with money, being on the ONE Championship card, and [getting] the publicity.”
Mikey Musumeci Fueled To Make Submission Grappling Huge
Mikey Musumeci feels a special obligation to elevate submission grappling and show fans just how entertaining the sport can be.
Given ONE Championship’s massive platform and global reach, the American believes it is his responsibility to produce mesmerizing performances every time he competes. And while that could be a heavy burden for some, he carries it with pride.
“This platform is insane for us as jiu-jitsu people. We’re used to competing in high schools and now, we’re here. Like, the whole world is watching, millions and millions of people. So, I’m just really grateful for this opportunity. But I just feel this huge pressure for me to keep jiu-jitsu on this platform. I feel like it’s all on my shoulders sometimes, but I’m blessed for that opportunity.”
Musumeci has felt this pressure since his promotional debut in April 2022, just weeks after ONE made the submission grappling branch a permanent fixture in its events.
While “Darth Rigatoni” was stressed at the beginning of his tenure, he recently tweaked his mentality and has started to channel that energy into his matches.
The American confessed:
“At first, it was scary to me. Like, I’ve never felt this before. I have all this pressure. I have to perform. But now as I get pressure, I use it as fuel, and this pressure, I’m grateful for it. I changed my mindset.”
According to Musumeci, he’s now using the pressure of being the sport’s torchbearer to motivate him to even greater performances – and that’s a scary thought to consider for Jarred Brooks and any of the ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Champion’s future opponents.
From the sounds of it, he could perhaps welcome even more of it.
“I use this pressure as fuel, and the more pressure I get, the more fuel I have. I feel like every time I get more and more pressure, it makes me a better version of myself. So yes, people [say to] me, ‘Oh, you have so much pressure.’ Yes, I do. But I’m grateful for it because I know it’s going to make me better, and I have to rise to the occasion.”