“It definitely is a new thing for me” - Mikey Musumeci enjoys the challenge of the circle wall in BJJ

Mikey Musumeci expresses his love for the Circle wall during his fights. [Photos ONE Championship]
Mikey Musumeci expresses his love for the circle wall during his fights [Photos ONE Championship]

Mikey Musumeci has only fought twice inside the circle, but he’s quickly adapted to it and used that newfound strength to become the inaugural ONE flyweight submission grappling world champion.

The grappling savant took a unanimous decision win over rival Cleber Sousa to become ONE Championship’s first submission grappling world champion at ONE on Prime Video 2: Xiong vs. Lee III at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Musumeci already had five IBJJF world titles before he arrived at ONE earlier this year and all of those were fought on a mat.

ONE Championship’s submission grappling matches, just like any of its other sports, are fought inside the circle, which gives a new and distinct atmosphere during BJJ matches.

Instead of going out of bounds, the athletes are now forced to use the cage wall to their advantage.

Mikey Musumeci said he loves fighting inside a cage since it prevents his opponents from running away. Although it was new to him at first, all ‘Darth Rigatoni’ had to do was acclimate himself to the cage and eventually incorporate it into his repertoire.

He said during the post-fight press conference:

“Honestly, I like the circle wall because it makes it harder for the person to run away out of like, there's no out of bounds. So it keeps us inbounds. I actually prefer the circle wall, but it definitely is a new thing for me. And I just have to adapt over time. It takes me a while to adapt to things but I'm doing decent.”

Musumeci and Sousa were 1-1 in their previous matches going into ONE on Prime Video 2, but it was Musumeci’s fight and he ground out a tough unanimous decision win against his Brazilian contemporary.

The self-professed nerd was the aggressor for much of the contest, while Sousa was a tad bit tentative and content on trying to secure some leg locks.

The pair already faced each other in 2017 and their stalemate lasted for half a decade before they once again crossed paths inside the circle.

Mikey Musumeci highlights difference between traditional and MMA grappling

Mikey Musumeci has been practicing submission grappling for more than two decades now and this exposure to the sport has made him one of the most discerning minds in BJJ.

While it may seem similar to the casual audience, Musumeci said that there are still unmistakeable differences between traditional grappling and the one used in mixed martial arts.

In an earlier interview with ONE Championship, Musumeci said that MMA fighters have to focus on several fighting styles whereas BJJ artists solely concentrate on grappling.

“MMA fighters have to focus on the variable of getting punched. So they have a different element that they have to focus on. So I feel like they have to be a little more technical in some ways with their framing and stuff and getting punched, but then they have to not focus on other things that jiu-jitsu people focus on. I just feel like it's a little different in some variables like that,” said Mikey Musumeci.

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Edited by Allan Mathew
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