Osamah Almarwai proud to represent Arab world when he bids for ONE Championship glory

Born in Yemen, raised in Saudi, Almarwai takes on ONE Championship flyweight submission grappling champion Mikey Musumeci in Colorado on Friday

Osama Almarwai was born in Yemen, raised in Saudi Arabia and on Friday hopes to make history in ONE FC. Photo: IBJJF
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Osamah Almarwai says he is ready to make history on Friday by becoming the first Arab to win the ONE Championship flyweight submission grappling title when he takes on champion Mikey Musumeci in Colorado.

The Musumeci-Almarwai title contest is one of the two main co-events of the 11-fight card headlined by the ONE Fight Night 10 MMA flyweight world championship bout between Demetrious Johnson and Adriano Moraes.

Born in Yemen and raised in Saudi Arabia, Almarwai carries the weight of the Arab world on his shoulders against an opponent widely regarded as one of the pound-for-pound best grapplers in the sport.

Almarwai, 31, says the messages of support he has received has “turned me to be in my best ever shape” and that his American opponent will see his best version when they lock horns at 1stBank Center, Denver.

“It’s an honour for me to represent the Arab World and I assure everybody that I’m in my best shape ever and ready, and hopefully, be the first Arab to win this flyweight title,” Almarwai told The National.

“I continue to receive lots of messages and love from so many people from different countries. It’s really an honour for me to represent the region. I’m grateful for this opportunity and I assure them I’ll be in the best version of myself. I would like to thank for their support. I appreciate their love."

He added: “Representing the Arab World puts a lot of pressure on me but this pressure will give me the strength to win."

Almarwai earned his passage for the title meeting with 26-year-old Musumeci after a string of victories including winning the No-Gi Pan American and the IBJJF No-Gi World Championship titles.

He has been preparing for the biggest match of his career for more than three months under the training of Andre Galvao, the co-founder and head coach of Atos Jiu Jitsu in San Diego, California.

“My preparation has been going very well. I have studied Mikey. He is one of the best but I train with some of the best in the world, and that’s why I want to fight him,” he said.

“I have completed my preparation and now I’m just focused on the mental preparation. I feel ready, I fee sharp, and hopefully, come out with a win. I will create history again on Friday, Insha Allah."

Musumeci, who boasts a 19-3 win-loss record, makes the second title defence of his ONE flyweight submission grappling belt against Almarwai having beaten Gantumur Bayanduuren via unanimous decision in January.

The contest is scheduled for 10 minutes and Almarwai says, though he respects Musumeci, he is determined to take the challenge to the champion.

“As the challenger my approach for Mikey will be aggressive. It’s only 10 minutes, so there is no time to waste. I have studied his game and I have seen his flaws and seen his strengths. I have prepared both mentally and physically for this match.

“I have been watching and following him. It’s an honour to be competing against Mikey. He’s my biggest challenger and I’ll be testing my skills against him,” he said.

Almarwai claims his speed and his mental preparation to be his biggest asset while representing the Arab World motivates him to bring his best to the table.

Almarwai’s jiu-jitsu journey began when he followed his older brother, Mohammed, to the gym as a boy in Saudi Arabia and he continued to train after completing high school.

He then moved to the United States to study English in Orlando, Florida where the university he attended offered free jiu-jitsu classes.

Almarwai received his brown belt when he returned to Saudi Arabia, where his father was employed, before returning to the US again to complete his Masters in Engineering Management.

“I spent my free time training jiu-jitsu during my college time, I would train hard but it wasn’t serious. I started competing and then I started to focus more seriously and professionally," Almarwai adds.

“I thought I had the talent and the potential because I was training with some of the best in the world when I came to the US. I thought 'why not become a professional?'

“In the late stage of my brown belt, when I won my first world title as a professional, I took it up more seriously. Tthat’s the time I wanted to be one of the best and represent the Middle East because I was able to beat some of the biggest names in the sport.

“Hopefully on May 5, I’ll make history again by becoming the first Middle Eastern flyweight world champion.”

Updated: May 04, 2023, 8:55 AM