Martin Nguyen Vs. Garry Tonon: 4 Keys To Victory In Key Featherweight MMA Clash At ONE 165

Garry Tonon Martin Nguyen

It’s common to pit style versus style in mixed martial arts, but when Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon meets Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen at ONE 165: Superlek vs. Takeru, the dividing line will be stark.  

Their high-stakes featherweight MMA battle sees the division’s most feared grappler face its most prolific knockout artist at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan, this Sunday, January 28.  

Although Tonon’s and Nguyen’s respective goals for the match are clear, achieving them won’t be easy against a world-class opponent trying to implement their own game.  

Here are four keys to victory that could make the difference when these top-ranked featherweight contenders chase another shot at gold.  

#1 Tonon Getting Close By Any Means Necessary 

Tonon is a competent wrestler, but he isn’t restricted to getting on top through his takedowns. He sets up double-legs behind his punches, but Nguyen’s sprawl is strong and can be hard to get past.  

“The Lion Killer” must not lose heart if his initial entry gets stuffed, as his scrambling ability is second to none, and he can be just as dangerous off his back.  

Tonon can chain his attacks if he gets sprawled on, looking for sit-outs to Nguyen’s back or alternative ways to finish on top.  

However, the leg lock master can also pull guard off his failed entries – or even just use the entry as bait – so he can enter his leg entanglements.  

If Tonon makes contact and lets it slip away without a fight, he’ll use a lot of energy closing the distance again. So, once he’s gotten close to “The Situ-Asian,” he should try to make sure there’s no retreat.  

#2 Nguyen’s Calf Kicks 

Nguyen’s preference would be to engage with Tonon’s grappling game as little as possible – and to do that, he needs to keep his man at bay. 

One of the best ways to accomplish that is with his painful calf kicks.  

The former two-division MMA king has tremendous accuracy with this strike, and it will be beneficial against “The Lion Killer” for multiple reasons.  

First, as Nguyen showed against Narantungalag Jadambaa, it can severely limit an opponent’s ability to bear weight on their lead leg, or even take it away completely. If Tonon can’t load up for his takedowns, it will make shooting very difficult.  

It’s also the lowest-risk kick the Vietnamese-Australian can use. Its low trajectory makes it very hard to catch, and if Tonon does try to grab it, he’ll leave his head open to be hit.  

Finally, if the American is wary about planting his weight on his lead leg because it’s getting smashed by Nguyen’s kicks, he’ll be forced to stay in his rival’s preferred range for longer.  

#3 Tonon’s Ground Control 

Given the dangers of entering into Nguyen’s striking distance, Tonon will want to drag his foe into a ground battle.  

Fortunately, the BJJ legend has a dominant skill set on the canvas for both controlling and attacking.  

His top game is strong, utilizing heavy ground-and-pound to open up passing opportunities to more advantageous positions.  

He’s hard to shift from side control or full mount, but he’s potent if he gets to the back. Tonon became known as “The Lion Killer” for his clinical ability to choke people from the back, and he’ll feel confident about getting the finish given half a chance.  

As a safety net, he can stay a step ahead of almost anybody in a scramble if the striker does manage to create any room to escape.  

#4 Nguyen’s Powerful Hands 

Nguyen only needs a split-second to drastically change the course of a fight with his concussive punches.  

“The Situ-Asian” is top of the charts with seven knockout wins in ONE’s featherweight MMA division, and he has 10 career KOs overall.  

He has the innate power to turn out the lights when his leather lands, particularly with his signature overhand right.  

Nguyen employs it well as a counter, but he can also press forward with it behind his jab. 

His left hook is also a huge weapon to the head or body, so Tonon has a lot to think about when he tries to close the distance.  

Finally, Nguyen can be extremely patient and doesn’t go wild until he has his rival hurt, which is useful when overcommitting could leave him susceptible to takedowns.  

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