Despite having a long list of accomplishments in the grappling world, Garry Tonon does not have any MMA championships to his name yet. While that cannot change immediately, a win on Friday against Koyomi Matsushima could be his final step towards a shot in ONE Championship.
With five wins as a pro in MMA, grappling expert Tonon sees his next challenge on Friday, fighting in the co-main event of ONE Championship’s “Big Bang” card in Singapore. In his eyes, a victory at the show would put him up next for a title shot.
“I think very realistically I would fight for the title [next],” said Tonon on a conference call with media on Tuesday.
Having competed in ONE for his entire pro MMA career, Tonon has climbed up their 155-pound division. His last fight was in May of 2019, where he stopped Yoshiki Nakahara within a minute with a heel hook. All of his bouts have come via finish thus far.
While being able to make a good case for a title shot, Tonon knows that current champion Thanh Le could potentially fight Martin Nguyen in a rematch, as their October clash between the two fighters was close. As a matter of fact, Tonon thinks a rematch would is justified.
“I think if anybody actually sits back and watches that fight they’ll realize that at intermittent points either one of them could have been the victor,” said Tonon, talking about the fight that happened on ONE’s “Inside the Matrix” card.
When asked about how he sees Friday’s fight going, Tonon stressed that he has to envision the good and the bad of a fight. While he could win in quick and dominant fashion, it’s simply not realistic to not think about challenges that could happen in the fight.
However, when talking about career goals in general, Tonon has confident about certain things happening. Optimistic about what 2021 holds, Tonon claims he could hold two belts within ONE in the next year.
“By the end of 2021 I could very well be looking at holding the 155 [pound] as well as 170 pound title … I think it’s very realistic,” said Tonon.
Two championship fights within a year would make for a busy 12 months as opposed to what he has faced recently. Set to return after 19 months of absence from action, Tonon is facing the biggest layoff of his pro career.
In the time since his last fight, Tonon has turned back to his home: grappling. From 2019 all the way up until July, Tonon has been competing at grappling events. With that being said, MMA continues to be the main focus for him now. As he put it, the competitions were simply to keep him active.
“If I don’t have a fight and I want to stay busy, we’re going to do a grappling match,” said Tonon on why he took the matches.
Grappling is the base of Tonon’s offence, and it is what he is most confident about. He claimed on Tuesday that he could beat former UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in a “pure grappling match.”
With the strong base in grappling already there, Tonon is now also confident that he has been around striking enough to be comfortable with it.
“I just think I’m much more prepared from an experience perspective now. I’ve had that much more sparring, I’ve had that many more fights now,” he said.
Those skills may very well be tested on Friday, as Matsushima has notable finish victories over Marat Gafurov and Jae Woong Kim.