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Mikey Musumeci outclasses Cleber Sousa for the inaugural ONE flyweight submission grappling world title

Mikey Musumeci is the inaugural ONE flyweight submission grappling world champion. | Photo by ONE Championship
Mikey Musumeci is the inaugural ONE flyweight submission grappling world champion. | Photo by ONE Championship

Mikey Musumeci added another entry to his illustrious grappling resume as he was crowned the inaugural ONE flyweight submission grappling world title.

On Friday, ‘Darth Rigatoni’ took out familiar foe Cleber Sousa via unanimous decision in the co-main event of ONE on Prime Video 2: Xiong vs Lee III at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

After trading victories in their first two encounters, the two Brazilian jiu-jitsu wizards were eager to break the stalemate and make history.

Given their familiarity with each other, there was no such thing as a feeling-out process at the beginning of the 10-minute bout.

Mikey Musumeci dropped down and scooted in right away after the bell rang. Sousa rushed in and swiftly attacked in a bid to break his guard, which he successfully did in their first encounter back in 2017.

‘Darth Rigatoni’, though, proved that times have changed.

The five-time IBJJF black belt world champion knew what he wanted to do and fixated on Cleber’s lower body by attempting one of his patented leg attacks. The slippery ‘Clandestino’ spun away and defended each time, prompting Musumeci to adjust and hunt for other leg lock entries.

The Brazilian maintained top position for the entire bout but couldn’t mount any offense, as Mikey Musumeci brilliantly found ways to retain his attacking guard each time.

Around the six-minute mark, the 26-year-old American caught Sousa’s shoulder and threatened with an omoplata. The Brazilian once again showed his resilience and escaped the precarious submission attempt.

The non-stop action turned up a notch in the remaining five minutes of the bout, as both grapplers fought with a sense of urgency.

Sousa aggressively dived in and even performed a couple of cartwheels just to secure a favorable position. His efforts, however, were all for naught, as Musumeci was one step ahead of him each time.

The American grappling wizard’s guard was as impenetrable as it gets and clearly had more submission attempts as the match ended.

Mikey Musumeci walked away with the hard-earned victory and the distinction as ONE’s first-ever world champion in the grappling arts.


Mikey Musumeci on traditional grappling and MMA grappling

More challenges await ‘Darth Rigatoni’ after winning his grudge match against Sousa.

In an earlier interview with ONE, Musumeci expressed his gratitude to the promotion for allowing him to practice his craft on a global scale.

The newly crowned world champion also discussed the difference between traditional grappling and grappling for MMA:

“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.”

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Edited by David Andrew
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