On Friday, January 21, Who’s Number One (WNO) returned to action for its first show of the year with a card filled with the best submission grapplers in the world and three title matches. In the main event, Pedro Marinho upset Craig Jones by unanimous decision to capture the WNO light heavyweight belt. And in other title matches, Tye Ruotolo won his second WNO title with a submission win over Levi Jones-Leary, and Mikey Musumeci retained his bantamweight belt against Estevan Martinez.
Jones stayed true to his promise to never pull guard again, choosing to wrestle with a willing opponent in Marinho. The pair stayed on their feet through the first 7 minutes of the match. Marinho largely bullied and controlled Jones, but both men were cautious of each other’s offensive counter-wrestling, leading to a stalemate on the feet. After a referee’s warning for passivity, Jones did pull guard, but Marinho quickly passed it and held north/south for about half a minute.
The match returned to the feet, where Jones did pick up the pace, but was ultimately unable to threaten Marinho’s impenetrable takedown defense.
For Jones, this was his first WNO loss in five appearances. Marinho is now the WNO light heavyweight champion after winning double-gold at the 2021 IBJJF no-gi Worlds in his rookie black belt year.
In the co-main event, Tye Ruotolo picked up a massive win and his second WNO belt, submitting Levi Jones-Leary in just over five minutes. Ruotolo fearlessly attacked Jones-Leary’s vaunted guard, even getting the better of berimbolo exchanges against the ‘bolo specialist. Just after the five-minute mark, Ruotolo latched onto a leg, finishing what appeared to be a heel hook/kneebar leg lock. Ruotolo is now the WNO middleweight and welterweight champion.
In his post-match interview, Ruotolo dropped a couple of gems. First, he was open to competing against his brother, WNO lightweight champion Kade Ruotolo for at least one of his titles.
“We’ll be getting it pretty, soon for sure,” he said.
Ruotolo also said he hopes to move up to 205-lbs. to challenge for the WNO light heavyweight title (Ruotolo holds belts at 170-lbs. and 185-lbs.; his twin brother holds the 155-lb. belt).
“That would be sick to get the opportunity to get three belts… That’s the plan, that’s the goal,” Ruotolo said.
In the main card opener, WNO bantamweight champion Mikey Musumeci successfully defended his belt on just eight day’s notice against the always entertaining Estevan Martinez. Outside of a couple of minutes of back control that Musumeci was able to achieve early in the match, the champion spent most of the match attacking from his guard, often employing the closed guard in an attempt to slow down the high-flying Martinez. Despite Musumeci’s near-constant submission attacks on both the upper and lower body, Martinez never appeared to be in serious submission trouble. Ultimately, Musumeci was awarded the unanimous and clear-cut decision.
In non-title action, Checkmat’s elite brown belt Elder Cruz upset ADCC silver medalist Nick Rodriguez in a gritty wrestling battle. The 15-minute match took place entirely on the feet, with both men attacking but neither able to secure a takedown.
Full Who’s Number One: Craig Jones vs. Pedro Marinho results and highlights:
Pedro Marinho def. Craig Jones via unanimous decision
Tye Ruotolo def. Levi Jones-Leary via submission (kneebar)
Elder Cruz def. Nick Rodriguez via split decision
Brianna Ste-Marie def. Amanda “Tubby” Alequin via split decision
Jacob Couch def. David Garmo via submission (inside heel hook)
WNO bantamweight championship – Mikey Musumeci def. Estevan Martinez via unanimous decision
Jessica Crane def. Alexa Yanes via submission (inside heel hook)
Michael Pixley def. Cameron Reed via unanimous decision
Geno Morelli def. Kimoy Anderson via unanimous decision