Skip to main content

The List: 3 reasons why Brazilian jiu-jitsu star Mikey Musumeci might be the world's most dangerous grappler

The grappling star will compete for ONE's first-ever submission grappling world title at ONE on Prime Video 2.

On Friday, September 30, Mikey Musumeci will look to solidify his status as one of jiu-jitsu's top pound-for-pound competitors.

In the co-main event of ONE on Prime Video 2, Musumeci will face Brazilian rival Cleber Sousa for the inaugural ONE flyweight submission grappling World Championship – live in U.S. primetime.

The match will be an opportunity for the five-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion to make even more history.

Moreover, it's a chance for Musumeci to showcase his unique skill set in front of a massive audience on the global stage.

Before "Darth Rigatoni" competes for gold inside the ONE circle, here's why he might be the most dangerous grappler on the planet.

1. He's constantly innovating and creating new techniques

Musumeci approaches jiu-jitsu like a math or science problem, testing all possible responses to a particular situation in order to arrive at the best available solution.

Through this process of trial and error, he often comes up with brand-new methods or positions. And as a result, the Italian-American is on the cutting edge of Brazilian jiu-jitsu

For example, one of "Darth Rigatoni's" best submissions is the butterfly-hook straight ankle lock – a variation of the traditional lock. In 2019, he set a world record by winning an IBJJF world championship final in just 12 seconds using this technique.

Since then, we've seen Musumeci's ankle lock used by plenty of other competitors at the highest level. The 26-year-old also debuted a modified heel hook known as the "Mikey Lock" in 2021.

The fact that he's creating new techniques is a scary proposition for his future opponents.

2. His unpassable guard

In terms of specific jiu-jitsu techniques, Musumeci might have the most complex and tricky guards in all of jiu-jitsu.

Whether he's inverting to hit a berimbolo back take, looking for leg locks, or attacking with triangle chokes, the Italian-American's guard is not a safe place to be.  

Over the course of 50-plus grappling matches since Musumeci received his black belt in 2015, only two men have successfully passed his guard in competition. He still defeated one of those opponents, and the other held a significant size advantage.

This is a particularly impressive accomplishment considering Musumeci starts nearly every match by pulling guard.

To this day, it's a puzzle that few have ever been able to solve. And for the most part, attempts to get through the guard result in either being swept or submitted.

To sum it all up, "Darth Rigatoni's" guard is arguably the best in the world – not only because it presents a constant and real submission threat, but also because it's practically impossible to pass.

3. After 22 years in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, he's still getting better

At age 4, when most kids were at the playground or watching cartoons, Musumeci was on the jiu-jitsu mats developing the skills that would make him a five-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion.

Now 26 years old, the New Jersey native seems like he's only getting better. In 2021, after years of competing exclusively in the gi, Musumeci switched back to no-gi competition and defeated a number of the world's top competitors.

Then in 2022, he made his ONE Championship debut, submitting Japanese MMA legend Masakazu Imanari in a dazzling display of technique.

Musumeci had an early start in grappling, giving him a leg up over the competition at a young age. Incredibly, he continues to grow and improve as a martial artist, as seen in his recent results.

Moreover, because "Darth Rigatoni" is still in his mid-20s, he will continue to develop physically, making one of the top grapplers on the planet an even more dangerous force.

This story first published at ONEFC.com.