Mikey Musumeci Becomes ONE’s First Grappling Champ, Makes “Respectful Request to Roll” With Demetrious Johnson

All eyes in the submission grappling world turned to Mikey Musumeci and Cleber Sousa on Friday night in the ONE Circle, as their long-awaited clash for the promotion’s inaugural world grappling title finally arrived. After ten minutes of fast-paced, tricky guard attacks and leg entanglements by Musumeci that had the crowd roaring, Darth Rigatoni claimed a victory by unanimous decision. 

“For martial artists who know the ground game, that was an electrifying bout,” Chatri Sityodtong told reporters at the press event after the match. “But without a dynamic finish, it would be hard [for casual fans] to know what’s going on.” He had hoped for a performance more similar to Rodrigo Marello’s record-setting fifteen-second submission over Ruslan Bagdasarian at ONE 161 on Thursday. “I can’t say I was disappointed, but I was hoping that Cleber would finish Mikey, or that Mikey would finish Cleber.” However, Sityodtong observes that matchups between the highest-level grapplers don’t always automatically result in a finish, and describes it as a lesson to himself.

As for Musumeci, when asked to call out challengers to his new belt during his post-fight interview on the canvas, he demurred. Instead, Darth Rigatoni merely wished to make “a respectful request to roll” of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. “We could bring the MMA and jiu-jitsu worlds together,” said Musumeci. Given ONE Championship’s propensity for hybrid events that allow athletes from different sports to make crossover challenges to one another, it might just happen.

Sityodtong also appeared favorable to the idea of a matchup between Darth Rigatoni and Mighty Mouse, telling reporters after the event that in addition to his jiu-jitsu chops, Musumeci actually has seven years of Muay Thai training under his belt – a fact that many in the combat sports world aren’t aware of. “When Mikey rolls with me, he crushes me like a little bug,” says Sityodtong, who believes that a scrap of some sort between Musumeci and Johnson would have major fan appeal. 

Musumeci and Sousa were far from the only stars to showcase their skills at ONE on Prime Video 2. Additional highlights included a champion versus champion showdown in the main event, during which strawweight queen Xiong Jing Nan successfully defended her belt against atomweight rival Angela Lee in a unanimous decision victory after five grueling rounds of action.

Main Card Results

Halil Amir def. Timofey Nastyukhin

Turkish ONE debutant Halil Amir emerged victorious – with a $50,000 bonus in hand – from an aggressive scrap with Russia’s Timofey Nastyukhin, finishing the Russian with a knockout barely a minute into their second round. 

Ilya Freymanov def. Martin Nguyen

Russia’s Ilya Freymanov, also making his ONE Championship debut, scored a vicious first-round TKO against veteran Vietnamese-Australian knockout artist Martin Nguyen. Freymanov also took home a $50,000 bonus for his efforts in the Circle. 

Stamp Fairtex def. Jihin Radzuan

Muay Thai superstar Stamp Fairtex took on Malaysia’s Jihin Radzuan in a catchweight MMA clash that saw a classic striker versus grappler matchup, which showcased impressive defensive wrestling from Stamp – not to mention a highly unexpected but surprisingly slick kneebar attempt in the final minutes of the fight. Stamp ultimately took home a unanimous decision win after a dominant performance over a very scrappy Radzuan.

Mikey Musumeci def. Cleber Sousa

In a history-making performance in the Circle, Mikey Musumeci spent a full ten minutes attacking a highly aggressive Cleber Sousa from his infamously near-impassable guard. Although neither athlete submitted the other, Musumeci nearly finished two leglocks, cementing a unanimous decision victory that has crowned him as ONE’s inaugural submission grappling world champion. 

Xiong Jing Nan def. Angela Lee

In the second rubber match clash of the evening – this time between a pair of ONE world champions who have already previously moved weight classes to challenge unsuccessfully for one another’s belts – reigning strawweight queen Xiong Jing Nan took a unanimous decision victory over longtime rival and atomweight champion Angela Lee. Though neither athlete has achieved champ-champ status yet, we saw five rounds of nonstop action between these two that suggests that a fourth showdown wouldn’t be out of the question.

Relive all the action from this card in a full replay, available via Amazon Prime Video


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