Musumeci Aims to Rewrite the Rules in Grappling Showdown with Aoki

August 30, 2023
From: Spartacus

In the eagerly anticipated spectacle set for October 6 at ONE Fight Night 15: Tawanchai vs. Superbon, Mikey Musumeci, who reigns as the indomitable Flyweight Submission Grappling World Champion, is gearing up for an extraordinary showdown against Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki. Broadcasting in U.S. prime time via Prime Video, this openweight submission grappling bout has piqued global interest, adding an exciting layer to the grappling scene.

Known affectionately in the grappling world as “Darth Rigatoni,” Musumeci is embracing a staggering 30-pound weight disadvantage to compete against Aoki, a former ONE Lightweight MMA World Champion. Aoki’s grappling acumen isn’t to be taken lightly; he has graced the stage at the illustrious ADCC World Championships and has had multiple ground encounters in ONE Championship events. 

Musumeci knows that he’s in for a rigorous challenge against the Japanese grappling maestro. In a recent interview with, he pointed out, “Kade Ruotolo, the 170-pound champion, fought him and couldn’t finish. So I’m going up in weight and fighting a guy that the champion couldn’t finish. Shinya is a tough guy to finish, so it’s gonna be a very interesting match.” 

However, what truly fuels Musumeci’s fire is the chance to prove that meticulous skill and technique in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can indeed eclipse sheer power and size. “I’m on this path where I want to have the most technical finishes that I can, where I use my body to the maximal way to get the amount of leverage I need to finish a guy bigger than me,” Musumeci remarked. He views this match-up as an intellectual puzzle, almost akin to a “cool science experiment.”

His ambition stretches beyond personal accolades. For Musumeci, this duel against Aoki offers a unique platform to illuminate the essence of Jiu-Jitsu. “I think that I’m able to really show the art of jiu-jitsu when I compete, and that’s what I want to show in this match,” he says, emphasising the art’s capability to empower the physically disadvantaged.

Musumeci’s finishing mechanics have been his focus since transitioning from gi to no-gi jiu-jitsu over the last two years. During this period, he has been a dominant force in his weight class. He revealed, “My technical ability in finishing submissions, that’s what I’ve been working so hard for in no-gi once I made the transition.”

As an admirer of Musumeci’s skill, ONE Championship welterweight MMA standout Roberto Soldic is rooting for him. Soldic, who himself has witnessed Musumeci’s strength and technique, says, “I don’t see Mikey losing this fight.” 

Soldic even ventured to predict a submission win for Musumeci, stating, “I think Mikey is going to finish [Aoki]. This is my prediction because he was born for this sport. He’s very, very dangerous. Triangle, leg locks, rear-naked choke, everything. In every position, he’s a finisher.”

Soldic’s endorsement is more than just mere praise; it’s a reflection of the burgeoning global fascination with submission grappling. He acknowledges the sport’s capacity to elevate the multidisciplinary fight cards that ONE Championship offers, adding, “It doesn’t matter which combat sport – Muay Thai, kickboxing, grappling, MMA – I’m excited for anyone who fights at the top against the best guys.”

If Musumeci secures a submission victory against Aoki, it would be the ultimate validation of his belief in the sport and his own technical prowess. And for a young champion on the ascent, what could be more rewarding than that?

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