Mikey Musumeci’s best wins in ONE Championship

Mikey Musumeci | Photo by ONE Championship
Mikey Musumeci | Photo by ONE Championship

By now, it’s pretty clear that ONE flyweight submission grappling world champion Mikey Musumeci comes from a special breed.

While we’ve had plenty of amazing Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialists inside the circle over the years, ‘Darth Rigatoni’ is just wired differently in terms of his seemingly manic yet totally collected approach when it comes to the grappling arts.

Following a stellar career in the unforgiving BJJ circuit, the 26-year-old entered ONE Championship with the weight of expectations on his shoulders.

After four brilliant performances, in front of a global audience nonetheless, it’s safe to say he more than lived up to the crazy hype.

With that said, let’s rank Mikey Musumeci’s three best wins in ONE Championship so far.

#3. Gantumur Bayanduuren

Apart from his otherworldly skill, what makes Mikey Musumeci a terrifying opponent is his sheer creativity on the mats.

At ONE Fight Night 6 this past January, the Evolve MMA affiliate made the first world title defense of his flyweight submission grappling crown against the gutsy Gantumur Bayanduuren.

The Mongolian, who comes from a sambo and BJJ background, was as tough as they come, as he found ways to survive the American’s torrent of wicked submissions.

Bayanduuren somehow reached the final bell after 10 minutes, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying on Musumeci’s part. ‘Darth Rigatoni’ masterfully chained his submission attempts and performed every leg lock imaginable, including heel hooks, kneebars, straight ankle locks, and even his signature “Mikey Lock”.

Bayanduuren’s leg was bent in places no human limbs should ever be, but he refused to tap out of sheer stubbornness and bad judgment.

He may have avoided getting finished but it came at a massive cost. The champion’s fearsome attacks resulted in a torn ACL, MCL, meniscus, and broken ankle for the challenger.

In the end, Musumeci still walked away with a clear-cut unanimous decision win and 26 pounds of gold.

Relive that gnarly scene, here:


#2. Masakazu Imanari

To be the man, you gotta beat the man. Musumeci did just that in his promotional debut, as he took out a true legend of jiu-jitsu, Masakazu Imanari at ONE 156.

The Japanese legend, of course, popularized the “Imanari roll”, which is still one of the most effective leg entries in combat sports today. Musumeci knows a thing or two about this technique, and he even took on the feared leg-locker at his own game to start their bout.

After they traded leg lock attempts, Musumeci shifted to another gear and blew the match open when he aggressively passed Imanari’s guard. From half-guard, the New Jersey native performed a slick knee-cut/arm-drag combo to magnificently take the veteran’s back.

A textbook tight body lock kept Imanari in place, as Musumeci skillfully peeled away his opponent’s defenses and got his arm under the chin. The rest, as we now know, is history.

Rewatch how Musumeci forced a grappling icon to tap via rear naked choke:


#1. Osamah Almarwai

After admittingly fixating too much on leg locks during his first world title defense against Bayanduuren, Musumeci learned from his mistakes and showcased his brilliant top game anew against Osamah Almarwai.

‘Darth Rigatoni’ was one of the big winners in the promotion’s United States debut at ONE Fight Night 10 earlier this month, as he choked out ‘Osa’ in front of an action-hungry American crowd.

The Yemeni grappler brought his A-game against the virtuosic world champion, but it was clear he was outclassed in every facet. Like the others before him, Almarwai had no answer for Musumeci’s impenetrable attacking guard and was forced on the defensive.

At one point, it appeared the American was once again suffering from tunnel vision, as he feverishly attacked ‘Osa’s legs. This time around, Musumeci showcased his versatile jiu-jitsu, as he abandoned what was not working and used superior techniques to complete amazing transitions.

In one swift motion, ‘Darth Rigatoni’ was able to take Almarwai’s back and even trapped one of his arms in the process.

Left with only one arm to defend the inevitable, the Atos product eventually accepted his fate and yielded once Musumeci sank the rear naked choke.

Check out the replay of Musumeci’s latest fight below:


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Edited by Harvey Leonard
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