Mikey Musumeci is back in U.S. primetime this weekend, where he’ll defend his ONE flyweight submission grappling championship against a dangerous foe. On Friday, Aug. 4, the New Jersey native will meet strawweight mixed martial arts king Jarred Brooks in the co-main event of ONE Fight Night 13: Allazov vs. Grigorian on Prime Video.
From his dazzling performance in Denver at ONE Fight Night 10, Musumeci got to witness the impact of submission grappling’s incredible rise in ONE Championship first hand. The 1stBank Center exploded in cheers when he secured the rear-naked choke finish and earned a $50,000 performance bonus, and it was an eye-opening moment for “Darth Rigatoni”.
“When we get bonuses, when MMA, Muay Thai, and kickboxing fans can actually enjoy watching jiu-jitsu, it means a lot to me. [It means] that I’m able to be a part of this and that future generations that do jiu-jitsu can also benefit with money, being on the ONE Championship card, and [getting] the publicity,” Musumeci told ONE.
A new day has dawned for the grappling art, and the global platform that ONE offers gives its athletes a massive opportunity to become household names.
However, the rise of the sport also puts pressure on Musumeci’s shoulders. At least, according to the man himself.
“This platform is insane for us as jiu-jitsu people. We’re used to competing in high schools and now, we’re here. Like, the whole world is watching, millions and millions of people. So, I’m just really grateful for this opportunity. But I just feel this huge pressure for me to keep jiu-jitsu on this platform. I feel like it’s all on my shoulders sometimes, but I’m blessed for that opportunity,” he professed.
Vocal about his battles with depression, Musumeci is finding ways to turn hardships into positives. While the weight of being the face of submission grappling could crush many, he sees it as an opportunity to motivate himself to stay at the apex of jiu-jitsu.
“At first, it was scary to me. Like, I’ve never felt this before. I have all this pressure. I have to perform. But now as I get pressure, I use it as fuel, and this pressure, I’m grateful for it. I changed my mindset,” the 27-year-old said.
His next opponent may not have the pure grappling credentials of others that he has put down during his ONE tenure, but Brooks is no slouch on the ground. With a decorated amateur wrestling career, “The Monkey God” is strong in exchanges and knows how to stay out of dangerous positions.
But Musumeci is motivated to carry the banner for his sport and continue to put on the most exciting matches possible while he has the spotlight, and he has another massive chance to do so this weekend.
“I use this pressure as fuel, and the more pressure I get, the more fuel I have. I feel like every time I get more and more pressure, it makes me a better version of myself. So yes, people [say to] me, ‘Oh, you have so much pressure.’ Yes, I do. But I’m grateful for it because I know it’s going to make me better, and I have to rise to the occasion,” he said.
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