Mikey Musumeci Reviews Dominant 2023, Reveals Dream Opponents For 2024
Reigning ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Champion Mikey “Darth Rigatoni” Musumeci enjoyed a banner year in 2023, and he’s looking forward to even bigger challenges in 2024.
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu superstar kept his undefeated streak in ONE alive across the past 12 months, reeling off four impressive victories, including three successful defenses of his gold to further solidify his status as one of the planet’s top pound-for-pound submission grapplers.
Musumeci recently spoke to onefc.com about everything he accomplished in 2023.
His first match of the year took place in January at ONE Fight Night 6 and resulted in one of the most gruesome submission attempts ever witnessed in the organization.
In fact, “Darth Rigatoni” says he’s still haunted by the damage he did to his opponent’s leg:
“I started my year fighting [Gantumur Bayanduuren], a current Sambo World Champion. And I messed up his leg, like that was pretty disgusting. It was a really interesting way to start 2023, right?
“But apparently, that was the second-most viewed match in ONE Championship history for jiu-jitsu. So it did very well with viewership, but it was disgusting as ****. I still can’t watch that match. It’s too gross.”
Four months later, the 27-year-old faced an opponent who many considered his stiffest test yet – reigning IBJJF No-Gi World Champion Osamah Almarwai.
According to Musumeci, that match was a turning point for him, as he was able to make adjustments on the fly and secure the submission finish:
“I fought in May against the current No-Gi Roosterweight World Champion of IBJJF, Osamah, and I had a really good performance there. I feel like I really started feeling better as a competitor in that match for ONE.
“I had a hard time letting go of things. And then with Osamah, I was kind of still in that loop. But then at the end, I opened up, I came up, I passed to the back. So I started feeling better, performing better.”
Loaded with confidence and having found his groove under ONE’s bright lights, Musumeci closed his year with back-to-back victories in Bangkok.
First, he submitted current ONE Strawweight MMA World Champion Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks:
“I moved to Thailand, and I fought Jarred Brooks, and I submitted him. I had a nice performance there.”
Just two months later, the flyweight submission grappling king returned for a non-World Title openweight bout against Japanese icon Shinya Aoki.
Despite dealing with a severe illness and feeling far from his best, “Darth Rigatoni” secured a Submission of the Year candidate, finishing his famed foe with his own “Aoki Lock.”
“I had my fight with Shinya, and now, I’m finally healthy again.”
Musumeci Wants To Face ‘Baby Shark’ And Gabriel Sousa in 2024
Looking ahead to 2024, Mikey Musumeci hopes to take on opponents who will cement his legacy as the greatest jiu-jitsu competitor ever.
Specifically, he’s targeting reigning ADCC World Champion Diogo “Baby Shark” Reis, along with former foe and ADCC silver medalist Gabriel Sousa.
After winning four IBJJF Black Belt World Titles to establish himself as his division’s top gi competitor, “Darth Rigatoni” says that wins over Reis and Sousa would erase any doubts that he’s also the best no-gi submission grappler:
“Those two guys, they mean a lot to me, especially for my career in no-gi. You know, my career in gi, it speaks for itself. I won every title. I beat the top people. In the gi, my credibility is complete.
“I don’t feel there’s anything else for me to do in the gi, but no-gi, I never won ADCC, right? So that’s a big hole. I mean, they don’t have my weight class, so that’s one thing. But again, I still want to beat the champions of ADCC. And I want to test myself, you know, and those two guys, Gabriel Sousa and ‘Baby Shark,’ those are the two guys I know are gonna make me push myself to train hard, and they make me excited.”