Mikey Musumeci approaches jiu-jitsu as he does with chess: “I’m always 20 moves ahead”

Mikey Musumeci. [Image: ONE Championship]
Mikey Musumeci. [Image: ONE Championship]

The secret to beating someone in a game of chess is to recognize patterns, develop intuitions, and master every movement of different types of pieces. Per Mikey Musumeci, that approach could be applied to jiu-jitsu too.

The ONE flyweight submission grappling world champion may not be a grandmaster on the chessboard, but he is obsessed with it just as much as he unconditionally loves ‘the gentle art.’

Over the years, ‘Darth Rigatoni’ has found a myriad of ways to transfer his problem-solving methods from the chessboard to the mats. Of course, the results have shown too.

A BJJ black belt, a five-time IBJJF world champion, and now a three-time ONE world champion, it’s safe to say the New Jersey native is at the top of his game now, and it could largely be down to his way of approaching each training session and tournament.

During an appearance on The Fighter and The Kid, Mikey Musumeci described why he sees a resemblance between the two.

He said:

“So, yeah. It’s just like chess. Basically, you have your line of attacks, and you know every single reaction the person’s going to give you. And you have an answer to every reaction. So, it’s basically a chess party. I’m always 20 moves ahead.”

Watch the full podcast here:


Very much like jiu-jitsu, a chess master could lay out a plan to be more offensive or defensive.

When on the attack, one can force their opponent into choosing between two bad options. On the defensive side, a player can give their enemy room to make unforced errors before countering with a quick checkmate.

The key to both approaches is to stay several steps ahead. Sounds familiar? That’s because jiu-jitsu works in a very similar manner.

Watch how Mikey Musumeci dissected his most recent opponent, Osamah Almarwai, at ONE Fight Night 10 to get an idea.

The May 5 bill is available via replay for North American fans on Amazon Prime Video.

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Edited by Sabine Algur
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