Reigning ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Champion Mikey "Darth Rigatoni" Musumeci looks back on a phenomenal year in 2023 and eagerly anticipates even greater challenges in the coming year. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu superstar maintained his unbeaten streak in ONE Championship over the past 12 months, securing four impressive victories, including three successful title defences. These accomplishments solidified his standing as one of the world's premier pound-for-pound submission grapplers.
In a recent interview with onefc.com, Musumeci delved into his remarkable achievements in 2023. His year kicked off in January at ONE Fight Night 6, where he engaged in a memorable match against current Sambo World Champion Gantumur Bayanduuren. The bout featured one of the most intense submission attempts witnessed in the organization, leaving Musumeci haunted by the damage inflicted on his opponent's leg. Despite the visceral nature of the encounter, it became the second-most viewed match in ONE Championship history for jiu-jitsu.
Four months later, Musumeci faced a formidable opponent in reigning IBJJF No-Gi World Champion Osamah Almarwai. Describing the match as a turning point, Musumeci highlighted his ability to make on-the-fly adjustments, ultimately securing the submission finish.
Confident and finding his rhythm under the bright lights of ONE, Musumeci concluded his year with back-to-back victories in Bangkok. First, he submitted ONE Strawweight MMA World Champion Jarred "The Monkey God" Brooks, showcasing a stellar performance. Two months later, despite grappling with severe illness, Musumeci returned for a non-World Title openweight bout against Japanese icon Shinya Aoki. In an awe-inspiring display, he secured a Submission of the Year contender by finishing Aoki with his own "Aoki Lock."
Looking ahead to 2024, Musumeci aims to face opponents who will solidify his legacy as the greatest jiu-jitsu competitor ever. Specifically targeting reigning ADCC World Champion Diogo "Baby Shark" Reis and former foe, ADCC silver medalist Gabriel Sousa, Musumeci seeks to erase any doubts about his prowess as the best no-gi submission grappler. With an impressive record, including four IBJJF Black Belt World Titles in the gi division, Musumeci sees wins over Reis and Sousa as crucial milestones to complete his credentials in the no-gi realm.
Expressing his eagerness for the challenges ahead, Musumeci emphasized that facing top contenders like Reis and Sousa would push him to train harder and elevate his game, making for an exciting and ambitious year in 2024.