‘Many People Asked For This Fight’ – Gabriel Sousa Hopes To Beat Mikey Musumeci Once Again At ONE 167

Gabriel Sousa

Gabriel Sousa is ready to take his career to the next level with ONE Championship. 

The Brazilian standout makes his promotional debut in a rematch against Mikey “Darth Rigatoni” Musumeci at ONE 167 on Prime Video, and he enters as one of a rare few to have submitted the American superstar in competition.  

Despite that victory in their first encounter three years ago, Sousa knows that their bantamweight submission grappling clash on Friday, June 7, is a much different prospect. 

The pair will duke it out live in U.S. primetime at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, and the scale of the opportunity is not lost on the 27-year-old. 

Looking ahead to a second clash against an opponent he holds in high regard, Sousa said: 

“It’s going to be very different. It will be on the ONE platform, something much bigger with a much larger audience and a much better structure.  

“I’m happy for the opportunity and happy that Mikey agreed to fight me in a weight division above his. He doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone. He fights at 61 kilograms and is moving up to the 66-kilogram division so he can fight me. I have a lot of respect for him. His attitude speaks for itself. 

“I’m also very grateful to ONE for making this fight happen. I know that many people asked for this fight, and it will finally happen. Everyone stands to gain.” 

Sousa shocked the grappling world when he submitted the multiple-time BJJ World Champion Musumeci back in 2021, and he’s continued to impress since against some of the strongest opponents on the circuit.  

Meanwhile, “Darth Rigatoni” has gone on an incredible run of 14 straight victories since that defeat, including a perfect 6-0 slate in ONE with three defenses of his ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Title.  

Sousa doesn’t take his previous victory over Musumeci as a determining factor in their next bout and predicts a tough battle when the two meet again. 

He said: 

“Mikey is an exceptional athlete! He is really badass. He has an out-of-this-world guard game. He attacks the back very well, attacks footlocks, heel hooks, and kneebars very well. He is one of the best athletes in the world. 

“But our fighting styles are different. I like takedowns and I like passing guard. Mikey, on the other hand, likes to play guard and take the back or attack footlocks. He is an expert at what he does and I am an expert at what I do. It will be a great fight.” 

Gabriel Sousa Plotting Second Submission Win Over Mikey Musumeci

Gabriel Sousa submitted Mikey Musumeci 11 minutes into a 15-minute contest back in 2021, but he will only have 10 minutes to try to dispatch “Darth Rigatoni” this time round.  

However, that was in the quarter-final of a one-night tournament where Sousa had to be ready for multiple opponents, so with his sights set only on the American this time, he feels he can get the job done.  

He explained: 

“This time, I will have more time to focus on the fight and train to fight for 10 minutes. Last time, I trained for a championship that was longer. This time I’m focused just on him, and because of that, I think I’ll get even better. 

“I’m sure he must have trained a lot, watched my fights a lot, and reviewed our fight, but I believe I’m a totally different grappler than when we fought in 2021. I think I’m a more complete athlete today and that will count for a lot.” 

Sousa doesn’t want to make any bold predictions because he knows he’s in for a hard battle against one of his era’s greats, but he’s planning for a repeat of their first clash. 

After passing Musumeci’s guard and submitting him with a north-south choke in 2021, the Brazilian would love to dominate in a similar manner to halt the incredible run of “Darth Rigatoni.” 

Sharing his thoughts on how the match might play out, Sousa said: 

“It can end in several ways, but I believe Mikey will pull guard. He won’t trade takedowns with me. He will play underneath, playing guard, and I’m going to try to pass his guard. My focus will be on passing to side control or taking the back, and Mikey’s focus will be on attacking my legs or taking my back. 

“If I could choose an outcome, of course, I would like to pass his guard and submit him on his back. But, again, we are two very high-level athletes. Let’s see how it goes this time.” 

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