Competing in prestigious grappling tournaments across the globe, Mikey Musumeci never expected to make more money than all those tournaments combined in one grappling match at ONE Championship.
The 26-year-old prodigy earned his stripes as a five-time IBJJF world champion before joining ONE Championship earlier this year. ‘Darth Rigatoni’ didn’t disappoint in his first outing, submitting legendary Japanese martial artist Masakazu Imanari with a sensational rear naked choke in under eight minutes at ONE 156: Eersel vs. Sadikovic.
Never expecting anything more than what he signed up to do, Musumeci teared up when he heard the news from ONE commentator, Mitch Chilson, that he had won US$50,000 for his sensational performance.
Watch his reaction below:
Mikey Musumeci explained to ONE Championship why he got so emotional that night, and it’s not the answer you’d expect coming from a 26-year-old millennial:
“It wasn't the actual money, but it was the fact that I had the opportunity to make that money. And we were able to show jiu-jitsu to everyone. I felt so much pressure before that match because I knew that it was all MMA, Muay Thai, and kickboxing people watching, you know?
We had a lot of pressure to make the fight exciting for everyone. When I got that bonus, it was like, wow, this is a new way for jiu-jitsu. This is from a jiu-jitsu match. Like, where the hell would you get $50,000 in a jiu-jitsu match, you know? So what it stood for is what made me emotional.”
Rewatch Mikey Musumeci's epic ONE debut below:
Mikey Musumeci knows Cleber Sousa will try to break him mentally
‘Darth Rigatoni’ is expected to make his return to the circle on September 30 to vie for the first-ever ONE submission grappling world title at ONE on Prime Video 2: Xiong Jing Nan vs. Angela Lee III.
Musumeci anticipates nothing less than a full-on grappling war with Brazilian rival and multiple IBJJF world champion Cleber Sousa. Both grapplers have crossed paths before and have one victory apiece over each other. Five years after their first two meetings, they will finally be able to settle the score. The Italian-American standout admitted to ONE Championship that it’s going to be a war:
"He’s a tough guy, just a really tough, solid guy [...] and he doesn’t give up, he pushes forward, he pushes the pace, he tries to break you mentally."