It’s been a pretty long time in the making but ONE Championship have finally decided to pull the trigger on the idea of a submission grappling world championship, choosing Mikey Musumeci and Cleber Sousa to be the first grapplers to compete for a belt. The two will be facing off on Friday September 30th in a match that will be available to watch live on Amazon Prime, meeting in the cage for the inaugural ONE Championship Flyweight Submission Grappling world championship.
The announcement came as something of a surprise to fans, because Musumeci was actually scheduled to compete just two weeks prior to this event at the 2022 ADCC world championships but withdrew from the event due to health issues. Regardless, there are very few grapplers who are more deserving of the opportunity to become the first submission grappling world champion one the ONE Championship roster than Musumeci. He’s already done everything there is to do in the gi several times over and as a five-time IBJJF world champion, he’s started to seek out new avenues to challenge himself and develop his game as a no gi grappler too.
When he signed a contract with ONE Championship it was a clear signal that the promotion meant business with it’s acquisition of high-level BJJ talent and that they were taking the idea of a grappling division seriously. Then when his first match was booked against Masakazu Imanari, fans were over the moon. He managed to defeat Imanari in an incredible performance that clearly cemented the idea that grappling could have a place in ONE Championship among the other combat sports they already promote.
Now he will face off against an old foe in Cleber Sousa, for the right to be the first champion in the ONE Championship submission grappling roster. Musumeci and Sousa have actually met twice before at black belt, crossing paths in 2017 at the IBJJF Pan-Ams and the World Pro, with Sousa winning the first match by decision and Musumeci winning the second 2-0 on points. That was before Musumeci started his run of four straight IBJJF world titles though, so it’ll be interesting to see how the match plays out the third time around.
The match between Mikey Musumeci and Cleber Sousa for the inaugural ONE Championship Flyweight Submission Grappling world championship was announced in a post to the official Instagram account of Musumeci: