Garry Tonon Says Shamil Gasanov Will Regret Calling Him Out For Match At ONE Fight Night 12
“The Lion Killer” will face the undefeated Russian at ONE Fight Night 12: Superlek vs. Khalilov on Prime Video in Bangkok, Thailand, and their matchup will determine the top grappler in ONE’s bustling featherweight mixed martial arts ranks.
A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend before transitioning to MMA, #2-ranked Tonon is one of the most revered submission specialists in the world, but #5-ranked Gasanov called him out following his debut victory in ONE.
And while “The Cobra” says he did so because he admires his rival’s game, Tonon doesn’t think it was a bright choice for the Dagestan native.
The American told ONEFC.com:
“I like [that he called me his dream matchup] from a standpoint of respect. I think that’s cool, to be known as somebody who people look at and go, ‘Man, that’s the guy I need to beat to really prove myself.’ From a standpoint of what’s smart for his career? I don’t know if that was the smartest move, if you ask me.
“If there’s anybody in the division who’s going to be a better grappler than him, it’s going to be me, right? So this stylistic matchup of him using grappling to try to beat opponents versus another dude who’s really, really good at that makes that one of the toughest fights for him to win.”
Although Gasanov hails from wrestling stock in Dagestan – an area that has produced an inordinate amount of MMA success stories – Tonon doesn’t see his opponent as a typical export from the region.
Indeed, with nine submission victories and plenty of BJJ accolades to his credit, “The Cobra” has embraced a different kind of strategy – one “The Lion Killer” thinks is more similar to his own than others from the region.
“I look at his game the same way that I look at my game. This guy is trying to control and submit people. He may as well be a jiu-jitsu guy. From a fight-selling standpoint, Dagestani-Russian wrestler versus the jiu-jitsu guy, okay, I get it.
“But, I actually think he’s a little different than some of the Dagestani-Russian wrestling types because he tends to favor submitting people over beating them up on the ground. So, I think it’s a cool stylistic matchup to fight somebody who’s another really tough grappler.”
Still, despite knowing that Gasanov has a strong grappling-based skill set, “The Lion Killer” expects there to be a clear difference in ability between them when they hit the canvas.
He boldly stated:
“For sure, I’m going to submit this guy. It’s just a question of how. What’s the most likely way of doing it? Maybe some sort of guillotine.”
Garry Tonon Aiming For World Title Gold And Featherweight Icon
Now sitting at #5 with his perfect 13-0 professional slate, “The Cobra” has earned his high placing.
Meanwhile, Garry Tonon has compiled a 7-1 record in the sport, but all of his appearances have come against elite competition in ONE Championship. And with that in mind, he thinks there is a crucial gap in experience between them at this stage of their careers.
Tonon said of Gasanov:
“To get the double digits undefeated, you’ve got to be doing something special. So this guy is good. There’s no question about that.
“To some degree, he’s got a lot of fight experience. But fight experience is different than fight experience against top-level guys. I have a few more fights under my belt against some of the toughest guys that were much more dangerous. He’s got just the one.”
Given their respective standings in the division, the outcome of this match will have a huge impact on the ONE Featherweight MMA World Title picture.
Fully confident of taking the win over Gasanov in Bangkok, “The Lion Killer” does have some plans moving forward.
For the former World Title challenger, those plans include getting the belt around his waist – but there is also a longtime featherweight star he would love to prove himself against.
“One-thousand percent, you’re gonna see me pushing for the title. But after I push for that, the next person I want to fight after I win the title is [former two-sport ONE World Champion] Martin [Nguyen]. He’s won multiple titles and held them for very long periods of time against very tough opponents. You’ve gotta win the title, and you got to beat Martin. You don’t just do one or the other.
“And then of course, obviously, I still want to have a rematch with [former ONE Featherweight World Champion and current #1 contender] Thanh Le (who handed Tonon his only MMA loss). No doubt. I want that from a selfish perspective. It’s just not in the same ballpark in terms of what’s important in this division compared to beating Martin.”