‘Such A Special Victory’ – How Mikey Musumeci Overcame Illness To Defeat Shinya Aoki With His Own Move
Last Friday at ONE Fight Night 15 on Prime Video, reigning ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Champion Mikey “Darth Rigatoni” Musumeci turned in one of the most memorable performances in his ONE Championship tenure.
The New Jersey native scored his third consecutive submission finish, taking out Japanese martial arts icon Shinya Aoki in their openweight submission grappling clash with – of all things – an Aoki Lock.
Musumeci needed just over three minutes of work at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok to achieve the unprecedented and tap his foe with the very submission he invented.
While the finish itself was an Aoki Lock – a leg attack that torques the knee and ankle at a dangerous angle – the specific position from which Musumeci launched his offensive has long been one of his favorites.
In fact, “Darth Rigatoni” used that position to secure a record-setting 12-second straight foot lock to win his fourth IBJJF World Title back in 2019.
He spoke to onefc.com about what it means to land the move on its iconic creator:
“This is one of my biggest wins, I would say, for the fact that I did one of my favorite positions in modern jiu-jitsu, the Aoki Lock, on Shinya, the creator of the position.
“[It’s] a position that I used when I competed in the gi and won many World Titles, the straight foot lock. And a variation of the straight foot lock is the Aoki Lock. So I feel like the mastery of this position, you can’t get more mastery of the position than doing it on the creator of the position, right?”
Per usual, the always respectful Musumeci had nothing but praise for the former ONE Lightweight MMA World Champion.
Well aware of everything Aoki has accomplished and innovated in both MMA and grappling, the American described the “honor” of facing such a legend:
“For me, this is such a special victory, doing this particular move on the creator and the legend, Shinya Aoki. It’s such an honor to face him. I’m telling you, like before the match, I kept telling him, ‘It was such an honor to face you, professor.’”
‘Very Ill’ Musumeci Used Mental Strength To Compete In Bangkok
When Mikey Musumeci entered the ring to face Shinya Aoki, he was far from good health, still battling the after-effects of a debilitating bout of food poisoning.
“I’m still very ill. I feel very lethargic right now, you know that infectious sick feeling. I still have that a lot right now.”
Despite his illness, the 27-year-old BJJ superstar leaned on his mental fortitude – the same fortitude that earned him five IBJJF World Titles, the ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Title, and his status as the greatest American-born jiu-jitsu competitor ever.
Afterward, “Darth Rigatoni” described how he pushed through his physical limitations:
“No matter how your body feels, you have to keep going. You’ll function when you don’t feel well. We all have the ability to do that. So that takes mental strength to shut off your mind when it tells you to rest and you don’t feel well.”
Ultimately, Musumeci was motivated by the challenge of taking on a dangerous submission artist while feeling far from his best.
And now that he’s secured the victory in highlight-reel fashion, he thinks the confidence gained will carry over to his next appearance in ONE:
“Definitely, it was hard and definitely a difficult task I had, but it made me so motivated, and I wanted to show myself that even when I’m uncomfortable, I don’t feel well, I can do this. And that lesson and this experience will transfer to the next fight.”