Mikey Musumeci has consistently impressed throughout his career as a grappler, most recently winning his fourth world title.
For anyone who doesn’t understand how significant this is: Mikey is the only non-Brazilian man to win an adult gi Mundials title more than once. And he’s done it four times now, in two different weight classes.
After his most recent victory, I reached out to the young legend to learn a bit about his current mindset and outlook for the future.
“Man it’s an incredible feeling to see myself constantly improving each year! I still feel like I have so much more room for improvement.
Something Gui Mendes once told me when I was like 15 was:
‘To win black belt worlds is easy, but to win it 4 times, now that’s hard.’
And it’s so true! Every year there are new challenges everyone is working and training so hard to beat us it just takes so much work to keep doing this! I don’t know how many titles I will win. This 4th one was the hall of fame one so it was super important for me!
My body is super healthy and I’m only 25 I could really do another 15 worlds if I wanted to so well see #roadto20times? Hahaha.”
Since 2017 Mikey has won a title each year, with the exception of 2020. The pandemic of the past 2 years has had a drastic effect on the world, and the world of jiu-jitsu hasn’t been spared. I was interested to learn about Mikey’s experience with the pandemic:
“So in 2020 when covid hit I was stuck home only able to train an hour with my sister each day. That was super hard for 8 months only having one training partner but we made the best of the situation that we could.
My condolences to anyone that has lost someone during this pandemic.
Then once again in 2021 Covid has been such a pain in the butt for me. I was competing every month and improving so much then in September I got really sick from it. My strength I feel is still not 100% from that covid in September not to mention I got covid again recently.”
Perhaps most impressively, Musumeci is NOT scared to shed the gi and has recently been involved in a wide variety of no matches. Of course, he has big plans for no-gi as well…
“So the transition to nogi lit a fire under me. It made me feel like I was back to my first year in black belt in the gi! The new leg configurations with the heel hooks were such a new puzzle and so exciting to learn.
I feel like gi is my first love and always will be, but nogi can be super fun as well. I like starting from the bottom and working my way up so I am super excited to continue progressing in both gi and nogi. I only did 8 months of nogi before gi worlds and my gi seems to have improved from only training nogi so I think both are essential to making our jiu-jitsu the best we can! My dream is to win ADCC. It is the last title I need so every day I am trying to train both gi and nogi now.”
One fascinating aspect of Musumeci’s rise as a star in the sport is that to win his second world title as well as his most recent world title he had to face the legendary Bruno Malfacine, a ten-time world champion with whom Mikey had trained as a child. In their first match, in which Mikey managed to win by a 2 point lead, Bruno reacted poorly to his loss, but in their most recent match, a more dominant win by far, he seemed to handle it with more poise and grace.
“Bruno is such a legend! He already won worlds 10 freaking times and is still out there trying to improve and compete. I have so much respect for him. It was amazing to be able to hit a cool bolo on him and even share the mat with him again :). Bruno was super respectful and cool. We both just got emotional during our last match but immediately it was cool.”
Mikey is big on leaving his comfort zone as seen with his transition to no gi, for a short period he seemed focused on entering the heavier weight classes to try his luck against men with 80+ pounds of weight advantage. He had a couple of impressive performances as well as his very first submission loss in these weight classes. I was curious if Mikey intended on returning to the ultra-heavyweight division.
“I just love the feeling of starting from the bottom in stuff; nogi, heavyweight, etc. I feel these challenges make me improve so much when I go back to my regular division. So maybe one day if I’m crazy enough hahaha”
Recently, Mikey raised a lot of eyebrows by joining Pedigo Submission Fighting. His new team, nicknamed “Daisy Fresh” because they operate out of an old laundromat, has been making waves, as a team winning no gi pans back in April 2021. Mikey and fellow North American grappling superstar, Dante Leon, both joined PSF. I was fascinated to learn about his motivations and thoughts on this change:
“Well, I currently live in Vegas and have lived here for the past 6 years.
All my training and preparation have always been done here with the same people. A team for me in registering for events is just extra support from a group of like-minded people or friends of mine.
I have been my own coach in terms of training and improvement since I was a blue belt. People I think don’t realize I literally live in one place and just represent these teams in the competition. I love what Heath Pedigo and the squad have been doing for jiu-jitsu so I really am happy to be a part of the team and represent them.”
With as impressive as Musumeci’s career has been thus far, he’s far from done. I was interested to learn about his goals for the future:
“My goal in jiu-jitsu always remains the same. I want to keep technically improving as much as I can! My dream is to win ADCC as I said before. It’s the last title that I need! As well as continuing to make new goals for me in the gi! I hope I can raise the technical level in my generation for the next generation!”