‘I’ve gotten so much f****** better’ – Mikey Musumeci is pumped for redemption against Gabriel Sousa

Mikey Musumeci says he’s better than ever ahead of his submission grappling clash with Gabriel Sousa at ONE 167.

Five-time IBJJF world champion and current ONE flyweight submission grappling world champion Mikey Musumeci is on a mission for redemption against the last man to defeat him in competition.

On Friday, June 7, at ONE 167 in Bangkok, Thailand, the New Jersey native will square off with Gabriel Sousa in a non-title bantamweight submission grappling tilt that has given Musumeci some newfound motivation.

The pair first clashed in 2021 in a 155-pound submission-only bout at Who’s Number One. That night, Sousa shocked much of the grappling world, passing Musumeci’s vaunted guard before submitting him with a north-south choke.

That loss has stuck with Musumeci, who says he’s been asking for the rematch for some time.

“I don’t wanna be defined for just being a champion,” he said in an interview with ONE Championship. “What I wanna be defined for is overcoming obstacles, overcoming things that were harder for me. Because what would be easy for me is just to stay in my weight class, where I have, like, a 100% success rate the last, like, 8 years. But Gabriel is the last person to beat me. Right? So in my mind, my goal is to get the best jiu-jitsu I can have. So how do I get that? I get that by facing the hardest challenges for me.”

Indeed, Musumeci is in for the toughest test of his ONE tenure against Sousa. Since his upset victory back in 2021, the Brazilian has been a mainstay of the elite no-gi scene and earned silver at the 2022 ADCC World Championships.

Musumeci, though, is confident that he’s improved by leaps and bounds in the past three years. For the first time in a long time, he says he’s taking his physical preparations seriously and has prepared for this match like a true professional athlete with a renewed focus on strength and conditioning, diet, and nutrition.

“I’ve gotten so much f better, dude. Physically, technically, everything. I’m an athlete again. When your skill level is really much higher than your other opponents, I didn’t really have to focus on being an athlete.

“I would just be a hobbyist. I just trained in my garage with hobbyists and eating whatever I want, like just pizza. But now for this match, I started eating healthy again. I’m more like the Mikey that he trained with Gordon Ryan, when he did European’s open weight, when I was a light feather…

“I really put myself to have the best chances to win this match, I believe, and I worked very f hard. And I became an athlete again. I’m not just a jiu-jitsu hobbyist bum training. Literally, that’s all I was doing for 5 years is just training my garage with hobbyists. Or in Asia, it’s also hobbyists. So I became old Mikey again with that hunger and and eager to do everything right.”

To say that Musumeci is fired up for his rematch with Sousa would be an understatement. He knows that a victory over Sousa would silence many of his critics who say he’s faced lesser competition in ONE or can’t hang with top ADCC athletes.

With that in mind, he’s preparing for war at ONE 167.

“I have this f* crazy mindset right now,” he added. “And I don’t have patience. I have ADHD. I don’t want him to f* stay back. I want him to f* come at me like a missile. Let him have his power. Let him have his strength. I’m f* ready for it. And I want him to dogfight with me. And then we’ll see who’s standing after that… That’s what’s awesome about these matches. It pushes our will.”

How to watch: Mikey Musumeci vs. Gabriel Sousa takes place at ONE 167 on Friday, June 7, and will air live on Prime Video (free with Amazon Plus subscription) beginning at 8:00 PM ET. Fans can watch here.

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

Ben Coate has 1184 posts and counting. See all posts by Ben Coate