Last year Mikey Musumeci made history, becoming the fourth American man to win an adult black belt world title in the gi. This past Sunday, he again made history, becoming the very first American man to win two world titles in the gi. Mikey has proven himself time and again to be one of the best active competitors in the game, and these results bolster that remarkable status.
After his big win last year, Mikey sat down and chatted with me about his success and the path he took to reach it. It was a great honor and pleasure to get to follow-up on that interview with a second one.
The first question I had when chatting with Musumeci was how it feels to have reached such a special pinnacle in the sport.
The feeling is unreal. It really feels fake.
Since the Worlds last year, I really have worked super hard every day to prepare for this event. I felt like last Worlds, due to inexperience competing in the black belt division, it made me fight very timidly and more strategically. I really worked hard for a year to open up my game and prepare my mind, so when I competed this year I can show my jiu-jitsu more and fight!
I was very happy [with] how I was able to compete. I was able to enjoy everything. The crowd, the environment. At first I hated it when I first became black belt; now I love it! It’s super special competing in front of thousands of people with a common interest in jiu-jitsu from all over the world! I improved so much from last year so I truly believed I not only had the chance to repeat my success from last year, but I actually had the chance to open up more and show my jiu-jitsu more.
This time I understood mentally how to get positions going and I was able to take the back every match except my third match, where I got stuck attacking an omoplata I setup (now I have to practice and get better finishing omoplatas!)
Of course anything can happen because all my opponents in the Worlds are all so tough and amazing, but I truly believed I was prepared mentally better for this competition.
Given Mikey’s constant evolution at the black belt level, and his consistent success, I was interested in what he did to continue his upward trend.
My training was pretty much the same as last year, except more of a connection with the group of people and the energy was truly amazing this year!
This year I completely did my training in Las Vegas for this competition. I train at three places in Las Vegas: Dunham’s Jiu-Jitsu with my friend Rene Lopez, Chris Engle Jiu-Jitsu, and my friend John’s garage.
This is the second year just training with my friends in the middle of the desert. I was able to win black belt Worlds! Also in this training was my sister (Tammi Musumeci), Renato Canuto (#2 Lightweight in the world), Roberto Jimenez (double gold World Champion purple belt submitting everyone!), and Raquel Canuto (#2 Middleweight female in the world.) Our energy in the training was amazing. Everyone helping each other and truly wanting each other to get better and win and the results showed.
I didn’t do any conditioning again this year, just strictly jiu-jitsu.
Winning at such a high level can sometimes put a target on your back, or worse yet mess you up mentally.
So, how does a World Champion like Mikey handle the stress that comes with the rigors of training?
You need to be obsessed but at the same time you need stability in your life. I think this is super important. It is very common I see people put everything into jiu-jitsu and get burned out from overtraining. So I believe doing something else on top of jiu-jitsu is very important to keep yourself stable. I’m a business major at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, finishing the last semester now and also studying the LSATS to go to law school.
(Winning a world title) made me believe more what I am capable of doing, and it also gave me that drive to train hard every day to do it again. I believe what allowed me to accomplish this goal I had was I am never satisfied. I am always trying to improve every day. I never stop trying to learn.
My next goal in jiu-jitsu is to get four black belt World titles, which in jiu-jitsu puts you in the hall of fame. That is the ultimate dream of mine.
In closing, Mikey had these shout outs and thank yous:
“Thanks so much my sister and family who help me so much! All my teammates, my sponsors Gameness and Bull Terrier! God Bless everyone!”
The above interview was edited slightly for clarity.