Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon is his own biggest critic.
The decorated grappler is now 2-0 in his mixed martial arts career, but he is not completely satisfied with the commanding performances that have given him his perfect record.
In his most recent win, the American earned a third-round submission over Rahul Raju at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS after a dominant showing through the first 10 minutes of the contest, but he still sees plenty of room for improvement.
When he reflects on his July victory, Tonon does not focus on his rear-naked choke finish or the improved striking he displayed in the first two stanzas.
Garry Tonon's grappling is ____ .Singapore | 9 November | 6:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onelion18
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, 19 October 2018
Instead, he takes a humble view and analyzes his shortcomings, and what he could have done better.
“I think the biggest thing I took away from that last performance was I didn’t feel out the opponent as much as I should have,” the 27-year-old says.
“I kind of went straight in and got hit a lot because of it, and that made me much more timid throughout the rest of the fight.
“The second major criticism I had of myself was when I was taking punches, my head tilted in a backward direction many times, and that’s a recipe for disaster.
“Thankfully, I avoided it this time, but that’s when you’re most off-balance, and one good hit when you’re leaning backwards [means you could] get knocked over.
“Another major criticism – and I noticed this in the fight – is I usually move a lot more, but because he didn’t move, I kind of matched his pace. It was kind of like he lulled me into a rhythm. I would prefer that not to happen.”
At no point during his assessment does Tonon mention anything he did well, even though there was a lot to admire about his handiwork.
“The Lion Killer” was successful with his takedowns, showed strong kickboxing, and came close to a submission finish on several occasions, before he finally tapped out Raju in round three.
He explains that approach to his analysis is by design.
“I feel that’s a big part of what drives me to get better – self-criticism,” Tonon says.
On Friday, 9 November, Tonon will attempt to display his improvement. He will walk to the cage for the third time when he faces submission specialist Sung Jong Lee in a featherweight showdown at ONE: HEART OF THE LION.
Tonon does not want to give away too much information about his approach to the match-up at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
However, he does reveal he has not spent much time focusing on what his adversaries will bring to the table in these early stages of his mixed martial arts career.
Instead, the American is using his training sessions at the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York City to fix his mistakes and add new layers to his overall game.
“Obviously, it’s hard to just come out and publicly say, ‘This is what I want to do here,’ because that will alert the opponent to what’s going on,” Tonon says with a laugh.
“Right now, every fight that I take, I look at my opponents, and I try to look at what they do so I don’t get caught completely off guard by something that they do. Ultimately, I am just getting experience right now.”
Tonon admits that strategy will change once he is inching closer towards World Title contention and his rivals get tougher. But for now, the learning process takes precedent as he prepares for only his third bout.
That’s why “The Lion Killer” admits he does not know too much about Lee. His focus is to impose his will on the South Korean using the tools he has developed.
“What I know about him, the guy’s a grappler. He tends to use his grappling skills in the cage more than anything else. I don’t think he’s really going to adjust that for me. I think that means that the fight is going to end up on the ground,” the American explains.
“But my camp is not centered around beating Sung Jong Lee. My camp is centered around making me a better mixed martial artist.
“Whatever skills I manage to develop before this fight is what I’m going to use. I think it’s probably better at this stage of the game to focus on getting better as a mixed martial artist overall.”