Mikey Musumeci All Alone No More

Published on by Samantha Faulhaber

Photo Credit: Jesse Bell
Raise your hand if you knew who Mikey Musumeci was before the American Nationals this year.

If you need an introduction - Mikey Musumeci is good. He's a 19-year old phenom and the younger brother of Tammi Musumeci. He won four World Championships in a row while rising steadily up the ranks. He received his black belt from Rafael and Guillerme Mendes on the World's podium this year after winning the brown belt light featherweight division. If he's lost a tournament match in three years I can't find it. Mikey's dominance has limited his fame. Up until two weeks ago people probably knew him more as Tammi's brother or for the fun berimbolo-in-public videos the two put on Instagram. There was nothing exciting to report because he won all the time against a lot of different people.

Being good is one thing, but rivalries make for better stories. 

Black belt is the net that catches everyone that was ever good at the lower belts in one place.
Mikey may finally have his first rivalry on his hands and now everyone is watching. His black belt debut came at American Nationals. He met 2x black belt Pan Am champ Joao Miyao in the light featherweight finals. Both came out guns blazing and the firing didn't stop for ten full minutes. Mikey won by a score of 4-4 points, 5-1 advantages. The match is a technician's dream to watch if not the one you put on to show your non-BJJ friends how cool Jiu Jitsu is. The whole match is an intricate display of grips and leg battles in various stages of berimbolo and 50/50.  
Mikey emerged the victor and Jiu Jitu social media exploded with the news. Mikey released a very nice statement about being honored to fight someone he calls an idol. Joao only posted on his Instagram that he won no gi and got second in gi. No one was surprised at the brevity of the famously stoic athlete. The Miyao brothers together were almost a brand name by the time they were brown belts - quiet guys who were smaller than everyone and beating almost everyone. Matches against Keenan Cornelius and later the Mendeses and Bruno Malfacine kept their faces on the front page. Their famously impassable guards have a new colleague in Mikey.
Photo Credit: Mike Calimbas
A match is newsworthy if both fighters are exceptional. The winner matters because the loser is great. The loser has probably felt better but their stature is not diminished for it. Public excitement grows for the next meeting. Everybody gets better and pushes harder. The sport grows and flourishes. 
Both of these young men know by now that individual fights do not make or break anyone. Everybody is excited to see what happens next.
Mikey Musumeci has proven that he is at the next level. Joao has been one of the best for years.
With Gui Mendes retired there couldn't be a better time for a fresh infusion to the lighter black belt divisions. Joao's brother Paulo fights the light featherweight and featherweight divisions. He won Nationals at featherweight. Undoubtedly there will be many great matches to come between all of these guys in the near future. You'd be pressed to find anyone working harder than Mikey or the Miyaos to make it so.