Ahead of his match against Jarred Brooks at ONE Fight Night 13, Mikey Musumeci spoke about the importance of making grappling entertaining.
Current ONE flyweight submission grappling world champion Mikey Musumeci feels a serious responsibility to put on a show each and every time he competes.
This Friday, at ONE Fight Night 13, Musumeci will look to do just that when he defends his belt against ONE strawweight MMA champion Jarred Brooks.
That match will be the New Jersey native’s fifth appearance in ONE Championship, and he recognizes that competing on such a large platform (the event will air live in U.S. primetime on Prime Video) brings with it an obligation to entertain. Because while ONE appears to be all-in on submission grappling as it continues to expand its roster of talented competitors, Musumeci knows that the sport faces an uphill battle to gain more mainstream popularity.
The key to jiu-jitsu’s growth, he says, is the quality of the matches. He believes that uneventful matches won by narrow advantages will only turn audiences away and could eventually force ONE to cancel its submission grappling divisions.
“It isn’t about these tactical one-advantage jiu-jitsu fights,” he said in an interview with ONE Championship. “If we have those right now, we’re done. Jiu-jitsu will fail on this platform so that’s why we need these matches to be exciting… So we really need to make this work, and that’s how we’re gonna do it by having these matches where you have people that are actually gonna fight in there.”
For his part, Musumeci has finished two of his four matches in the organization and is coming off a rear-naked choke victory over 2022 IBJJF no-gi world champion Osamah Almarwai in his last outing.
“I’m just so bored,” he continued. “I’m just so done with these strategy games and the boring fights with the butt scooting and I’m done with that. It’s just so annoying. I don’t want any of that anymore, you know, like it’s it’s not intriguing to me. What’s intriguing is just two guys trying to kill each other and making it exciting that people actually watch, that it’s not the bathroom break for people that are in the crowd.”
Mikey Musumeci breaks down match-up against Jarred Brooks
Against Brooks, Musumeci expects to find an opponent that will attack him with reckless abandon.
“I think that he’s a great opponent for me in ONE, and again, I respect him so much for stepping up to face me. I think he’s f****** awesome. I’m a big fan.”
Indeed, Brooks deserves respect for taking on Musumeci. A veteran of 22 professional fights and ONE’s current strawweight world champion, he comes from a strong amateur wrestling background and has never been submitted in his career, but has essentially zero high-level submission grappling experience.
Musumeci knows he’ll have the BJJ and experience edge over his MMA counterpart, but he still sees a few ways in which Brooks can threaten him. Namely, he expects Brooks to push the pace and rely on his raw physicality and athleticism.
“Just breaking me down, getting me tired, you know? And he will not quit. He is gonna have relentless pressure forward, and he’s gonna try to gas me out. So I think that that’s his strategy. That’s the perfect strategy for him… I think it’s gonna be easier for me to finish him so I think that’s the play for him, and the play for me is the second he comes in at me, he goes hard at me, I come in countering him and I instantly solidify position and finish the match.”
Even though he’s facing an atypical opponent, Musumeci says he won’t change his strategy against the wrestling-based, MMA-oriented Brooks.
“I’m not going to change my approach at all,” he said. “I want him to come out, be super explosive and powerful, and I’m gonna go right in at him.”
If anything, Musumeci welcomes the aggression he thinks Brooks will bring on Friday night, as he believes that will create opportunities for his own attacks.
“You know, the more you attack me… the easier it is for me to get my attacks going. So I see this match being very stylistically in my favor.”
According to Musumeci, an MMA fighter of Brooks’ caliber would beat a great number of professional grapplers simply based on aggression, positional dominance, and toughness. Ultimately, he says, that approach makes for an exciting match.
“I think that [Brooks] would beat most of these guys that aren’t fighting to finish the match,” Musumeci said. “I think it’d be most of them. He’s actually better positionally. He’s tougher, like he’s not gonna just butt scoot and just play strategy and, like, make it boring.”
And while he gives his opponent plenty of credit, that certainly doesn’t mean Musumeci doesn’t plan on submitting Brooks.
For ONE’s submission grappling king, anything less than a finish would be considered defeat:
“I’m not there to not finish this match. If I don’t finish this match, I literally just want to tap like I lost. I don’t give a f***.”
How to watch: ONE Fight Night 13: Allazov vs. Grigorian takes place on Friday, August 4, and will air live on Prime Video (free with Amazon Prime subscription) at 8:00 PM ET.