Tammi Musumeci spoke about her upcoming ONE Championship match against Amanda Alequin and how she approaches BJJ differently than her brother Mikey.
The world is slowly learning more and more about Tammi Musumeci, whether she likes it or not.
This Friday, at ONE Fight Night 12: Superlek vs. Khalilov, the five-time IBJJF black belt world champion will compete for the second time on the massive global streaming platform that is Prime Video when she takes on Amanda “Tubby” Alequin in a 10-minute submission-only affair.
The older sister to reigning ONE flyweight submission grappling world champion Mikey Musumeci, the social media-free Tammi might be gaining more worldwide recognition thanks to her appearances in ONE, but that taste of fame won’t be changing her any time soon.
In addition to being a key player in ONE’s ever-expanding submission grappling ranks and the most accomplished American-born female BJJ competitor ever, Musumeci is a full-time practicing attorney.
Modest to her core, Musumeci says she doesn’t typically speak to her co-workers about her exploits on the international professional grappling circuit.
“I don’t like to really talk about it that much,” she said in an interview with ONE Championship. “But I think they think it’s cool. I don’t really like to talk to people about my jiu-jitsu and stuff. Even when I was in school, I didn’t like it. People found out but I didn’t like to talk about it.”
For Musumeci, the prize of being one of the planet’s top pound-for-pound grapplers isn’t fame or recognition, nor is it money. Instead, she says she competes against the world’s best simply for her own satisfaction, to test her skills at the highest levels.
“It’s something I like to do for me. I’ll talk to some people, some of them from where I work, they do jiu-jitsu. So it’s something I could talk to them about. But I don’t know, I’m not someone who likes to brag or anything, or talk about that stuff.”
‘A really good platform for jiu-jitsu’
Still, even the humble Musumeci can admit that competing in ONE Championship in front of sold-out crowds and on a massive streaming platform is a unique and unforgettable experience.
The 29-year-old made her promotional debut in March, earning a hard-fought decision over Bianca Basilio.
Musumeci says that competing in that atmosphere was unlike anything she’s experienced before in jiu-jitsu:
“I just thought it was a really cool experience. Because you grow up watching the UFC or these other organizations, and you grow up seeing that… Even at the highest level, a few years ago, I was like, ‘oh, I’m going to compete on the big mats in the gym.’ This is an opportunity to actually compete in a very spectator-oriented situation, but it was weird. It was big, like where you fought. But the way it was with the lights and everything you kind of felt like, it wasn’t as big, which was nice, too.
“So I just think it’s finally like a really good platform for jiu-jitsu. And I was very thankful to be there.”
Tammi Musumeci details evolution since first matches against Amanda Alequin
This Friday, Tammi Musumeci will return to ONE’s bright lights when she squares off with Amanda Alequin. The pair have met twice before at Who’s Number One, with Musumeci taking both matches by way of decision.
Those matches gave Musumeci a great deal of respect for “Tubby” and what she brings to the table.
“She’s very technical,” Musumeci said. “She’s always been very technical. And she’s an amazing competitor. That’s something like any match that she’s in, win or lose, she always keeps going. And it’s always exciting. So I think that’s the best about her. She has a good guard, and also good passing. She’s pretty good everywhere, honestly.”
Indeed, Alequin’s propensity for submission-hunting and seemingly endless gas tank should make for an entertaining matchup.
In their first two encounters, Musumeci was able to slow down Alequin’s aggression by constantly chasing the back as a counter to “Tubby’s” leg locks. And while that same dynamic might play out in this match, Musumeci says that her own leg locks have evolved tremendously since 2021.
“It’s like night and day from then,” she explained. “I mean, even since then, even in gi I started doing a lot of ankle locks and stuff. I’ve been, gi and no-gi, I’ve been hitting a lot of leg locks and also working those as well. Since then I’ve definitely been working on it a ton more.”
How Tammi Musumeci differs from her brother Mikey
Given her brother’s status as one of the sport’s best overall leg lockers (both gi and no-gi), it makes sense that Musumeci has developed her own leg lock game. After all, she views Mikey as her coach, for all intents and purposes.
But despite his teaching, Tammi says it took her a long time to feel comfortable attacking the legs.
“It’s kind of funny, Mikey has been trying to teach me ankle locks for years, and I never got them. But all of a sudden I started getting them.”
Musumeci might have struggled to learn from her brother because – as she readily admits – the two siblings approach learning jiu-jitsu in diametrically different ways.
Tammi, on one hand, relies heavily on her physical intuition, never thinking too hard about a specific problem. She is a hands-on learner who’s looking to enjoy her time on the mats. And by enjoying her time on the mats, she necessarily improves and grows her skill set.
Mikey, on the other hand, is hyper-analytical and will happily spend hours a day dissecting the minutiae of a single technique or position.
The older Musumeci explained how she’s different from her brother:
“It’s kind of funny because we had like a fight about this the other night… I do better in training, and in general, when I’m just doing my own thing, and I’m having fun with it. But he’s very analyzing every second and all about that. So we have completely opposite mindsets and ways we deal with it.
“If I try to do his way, I don’t feel as good about it because it becomes then like a job to me. And I don’t want it to be like a job. If I do it my way, and it’s not my way, it’s just how I do better with it, I’ll do even more training, but I’ll enjoy it and I’ll grow more because I’ll be thinking about it in a different way. I feel like everyone approaches things differently. And you can’t put your way on someone else. But yeah, we have two different approaches.”
Those innate differences will occasionally lead to some conflict in the training room.
“Yeah, because he thinks he’s helping me when he’s trying to have his way but it’s really just pissing me off,” said Musumeci.
But, like countless other sibling arguments throughout time immemorial, one sibling (typically the younger), ultimately admits that the other is right.
“So then he eventually gets to the point where – it’s always every time – he’s like, ‘Oh, you’re right, you do it your way.’”
Unlike her brother, who boasts one of the most intense and structured training regimens in the world, Tammi sees jiu-jitsu as a way to relieve stress, an outlet from the demands of her job as an attorney.
Ultimately, that means that Musumeci approaches training with a supremely laid-back vibe.
“I don’t know, maybe if I was more like [Mikey] in that way, and I approach it that way, I’d be better… I think it’s different too because I have stress from other areas, too. So if I put stress in that area too, I’m just not going to have a moment of relaxation. Then my whole day is stressed. My weekends are stressful.”
How to watch: ONE Fight Night 12: Superlek vs. Khalilov on Prime Video takes place on Friday, July 14 and will air live on Prime Video (free with Amazon Prime subscription) beginning at 8:00 PM ET.