Submission grappling is a timeless art. As far back as Ancient Greece, when the original mixed martial art of pankration was first showcased at the 33rd Olympiad in 648 BC, there is historical data illustrating the use of submission grappling techniques in competition.
Global combat sports promotion ONE Championship – to add to their MMA, Muay Thai, and kickboxing bouts – recently added grappling matches. Their most recent card, ONE X, presented two grappling matches. In the opening card, 26-year-old jiu-jitsu ace Danielle Kelly faced off against Japanese MMA veteran Mei Yamaguchi. Later on the card, multiple-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion took on ONE’s light heavyweight and middleweight MMA king Reinier de Ridder. Both matches ended in a unanimous draw.
ONE Championship has shown that they plan to incorporate more high-level grappling matches into their repertoire, and the promotion even signed the greatest submission grappler in history, Gordon Ryan, in 2021. At ONE Championship: Eersel vs. Sadikovic on Apr. 22, the promotion will once again showcase the debut of a young BJJ superstar.
25-year-old New Jersey native Mikey Musumeci started training in BJJ at four years old. After his family moved to Florida when he was 10, his BJJ training ramped up throughout the Southeast Florida region. By the time he was 18 years old, he had acquired multiple IBJJF championship titles with colored belts, and received his black belt from Jonatas Gurgel and Gilbert Burns. He would go on to become a five-time world champion, in addition to multiple other high-profile wins. On Apr. 22, he will make his ONE debut, facing Japan’s Masakazu Imanari.
Nearly old enough to be Musumeci’s father, Imanari is currently 46 years old. The 61-fight MMA veteran has picked up 28 submissions in 39 wins. He holds a black belt in BJJ, and a high ranking in shoot wrestling. He has held multiple MMA titles in the Cage Rage and DEEP promotions.
Similar to the two grappling matches for ONE X, the Musumeci vs. Imanari bout will pit a young killer against a seasoned veteran. Musumeci is battle-tested, primarily under IBJJF rules, but also holds professional wins in Who’s Number One?, where he is undefeated. He has also become one of the pioneers of the berimbolo technique, and has his own leglock submission move, called the “Mikey lock”. Imanari is battle-tested in battles – and a lot of them. His MMA career has spanned a whopping 21 years, and he has, mostly, seen it all. This will certainly be a grappling match for the ages – pun intended.
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