‘I Got Very Emotional’ – Mikey Musumeci Explains Anger Toward Gabriel Sousa, Looks Ahead To Kade Ruotolo

Mikey Musumeci Gabriel Sousa ONE 167 14

At ONE 167: Tawanchai vs. Nattawut II on Prime Video last Friday, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu superstar Mikey “Darth Rigatoni” Musumeci finally earned redemption against the last man to defeat him.

That night in U.S. primetime, the reigning ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Champion moved up to bantamweight and needed just over three minutes to submit promotional newcomer Gabriel Sousa with a vicious knee-destroying calf slicer.

After the victory, a fired-up Musumeci explained why avenging his 2021 defeat to Sousa was so important – and why the rematch brought out a more ruthless side that fans have rarely seen.

According to the 27-year-old American, tensions had been building for a long time:

“So for three or four years, this guy harassed me for every match that I did, discrediting me, ‘Yo, he’s not fighting me, he’s scared of me, he’s running away from me,’ just over and over and over and over.”

Since Musumeci’s loss to Sousa in 2021, he has firmly established himself as one of the top pound-for-pound competitors in submission grappling, collecting his fifth IBJJF World Title while claiming (and defending) the inaugural ONE flyweight submission grappling gold.

Through it all, he never forgot about his defeat to the Brazilian.

He says that Sousa’s tough-guy persona rubbed him the wrong way and tapped into childhood memories of competing against these types of opponents:

“It was just more about me finally shutting him up. The day before, he tried to make me flinch. He was walking chest out with me. And he brought out a part of me from when I was a kid.

“I’m not really a tough guy, and my whole life competing with these alpha macho people, and they always would act tough, and I like action. So it just brought out me as a kid, always dealing with this type of people.”

Musumeci admits that his anger got the best of him on fight day, leading him to unload an uncharacteristically vulgar post-match interview.

But now, with redemption earned and a dominant submission win over Sousa behind him, he’s ready to move on to the next challenge:

“It brought out Little Mikey from when I was a kid, and my anger towards that personality and that person. But, again I got very emotional. I’m sorry, guys. But I just leave it all out there, you know?”

Musumeci Won’t Bulk Up Much For Matchup With Ruotolo

Never one to rest on his laurels, Mikey Musumeci can now look forward to the biggest test of his career.

On September 6 at ONE 168: Denver, he will move up three weight classes to challenge Kade Ruotolo for the ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Title.

As he prepares to face a fellow pound-for-pound great, “Darth Rigatoni” says he’s not focusing much on changing his body to compete with the 170-pound Ruotolo:

“For me, it’s not about putting on weight. It’s about just feeling as strong as I could be, right? I’m afraid if I get too heavy, I’ll lose cardio and gas out in the first minute, especially because Kade has the best cardio.”

Indeed, the 21-year-old Ruotolo is arguably the sport’s most aggressive and relentless grappler – attributes that will surely push Musumeci to the limit.

Even though the flyweight submission grappling king knows he won’t be able to match the Californian’s strength and natural athleticism, he is still planning to add some muscle before their epic showdown in Denver.

Musumeci added:

“I’ll definitely probably stay lighter, and maybe if I can, I’ll try to put on another 5 pounds of muscle. I feel like that would be a reasonable number, 10 pounds max.

“I was trying, for this match, to eat more protein, so that helped me get a little heavier. So maybe another 5 pounds, if that.”

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