‘He Is Particularly Dangerous’ – Undefeated Shamil Gasanov Braces For ‘Dream’ Fight With Garry Tonon
Undefeated featherweight MMA star Shamil “The Cobra” Gasanov is knocking on the door of a World Title shot, and on Friday, July 14, he’ll have an opportunity to solidify his status as one of the division’s top contenders.
In the co-main event of ONE Fight Night 12: Superlek vs. Khalilov on Prime Video, which broadcasts live in U.S. primetime from the iconic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, the Russian phenom will square off against #2-ranked Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon in a high-stakes battle between two of the division’s most talented grapplers.
Gasanov enters the bout with tremendous momentum. The Russian holds a spotless 13-0 record and is coming off a sensational promotional debut, having submitted formerly top-ranked Kim Jae Woong in a mere 129 seconds to earn the #5 spot in the featherweight MMA rankings.
Tonon is also coming off a spectacular victory, as he submitted Johnny Nunes even quicker – in just 113 seconds – in their January clash. It was a much-needed win for the American, who had suffered his only MMA career blemish to former ONE Featherweight World Champion Thanh Le and a submission grappling loss to California prodigy Tye Ruotolo last year.
Despite that rough patch, Gasanov knows “The Lion Killer” is still an incredibly dangerous opponent. Indeed, the BJJ black belt possesses true world-class submission skills that will keep “The Cobra” on high alert.
“Tonon should not be underestimated. Both of us are skilled grapplers, and we pose a threat until the final second of the fight. Maintaining focus is crucial as a single mistake can cost [someone] the victory. He is particularly dangerous with his leglocks.”
While Tonon, with his many accolades in the BJJ world, might be the more experienced pure grappler, Gasanov feels that his own MMA and wrestling backgrounds will help make up the difference.
In fact, the 27-year-old featherweight believes his ground game matches up quite evenly with “The Lion Killer.”
The Russian said:
“I have more experience in MMA than Garry. I’ve also competed in BJJ, grappling, and freestyle wrestling, so I believe we have an equal chance on the ground.”
Still, “The Cobra” has put in extra work in the grappling department to prepare for Tonon’s dangerous submission game.
Ultimately, though, he’s not looking to just defend himself from the American’s attacks. He’s also looking to mount plenty of offense of his own.
“I do a lot of grappling with black belts and leglock specialists. I also have extensive wrestling sessions with freestyle wrestlers. I never approach a fight with just a defensive strategy. I’ll be launching my attacks from the opening seconds of our bout!”
Gasanov Sees World Title Shot In ‘Near Future’ With Win Over Tonon
Even before Shamil Gasanov joined ONE Championship in late 2022, he paid close attention to the world’s largest martial arts organization. And since signing with the promotion, he has been determined to position himself toward a shot at the ONE Featherweight World Title.
That’s why it makes perfect sense that the Russian called out Garry Tonon following his victory over Kim Jae Woong last October. After all, if he can get past a highly ranked contender and former World Title challenger, then it would be hard to deny him a World Championship opportunity.
But according to Gasanov, he’s been thinking about a matchup against the American grappler for some time, understanding that his elite submission skills make him one of the featherweight MMA division’s finest.
“I have been closely following my division in ONE for a long time, even when I was competing in another league. Fighting Tonon has been a dream of mine for a while. I have watched his fights in ADCC, and I consider him the most dangerous opponent in my division. I never look for shortcuts in my career, so I am fully prepared to face Garry. If I defeat Garry Tonon, I am confident that a title shot will be in my near future.”
If he’s able to get past “The Lion Killer” at ONE Fight Night 12 on Prime Video on July 14, he’ll certainly be able to make a strong case for a World Title shot next.
Gasanov envisions himself as a long-reigning ONE World Champion and, to the delight of grappling aficionados around the globe, a future competitor in the promotion’s submission grappling branch.
“My ultimate goal is to capture the ONE belt, as I have promised it to my mom. I also aim to successfully defend the title, God willing. Additionally, I have a strong desire to compete in submission grappling.”