‘It Speaks To My Character’ – Garry Tonon Proud To Battle Through Adversity In Gritty Win Over Shamil Gasanov

Garry Tonon Shamil Gasanov ONE Fight Night 12 17

The co-main event of ONE Fight Night 12 on Prime Video saw #2-ranked featherweight MMA contender Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon hit a highlight-reel kneebar finish on the previously undefeated Shamil Gasanov – perhaps earning another crack at the division’s World Title.

That victory was one of the most impressive performances in the submission specialist’s professional MMA career, in part because he was able to survive some early adversity.

In the opening seconds of the bout, Tonon rushed into a takedown attempt. The Russian defended well, trapping “The Lion Killer” in a front headlock position, where he unleashed a series of massive knee strikes to the head.

After the fight, the American explained that he had prepared specifically to deal with Gasanov’s strong wrestling base and dangerous ground strikes.

Tonon told ONEFC.com:

“I highly respected Shamil’s grappling game, and I very much saw situations that were definitely going to occur in this fight where he could be in top positions. And, you know, I would have to do some defensive work to get out, and that’s certainly what happened. So I’m glad that we did that in our preparations.”

Battered and bloody, Tonon overcame that early onslaught. Then in the second frame, he did what he does best and rolled into a devastating, knee-snapping leg lock.

Tonon says the submission finish was the product of countless hours of drilling in the training room, and he’s proud to have executed the technique on such a talented opponent:

“We’ve done it a million times in the gym, and thankfully, it was really cool to do it live on a game opponent, somebody that’s tough as Shamil. One of the best grapplers in MMA, if you asked me. So yeah, that was kind of super awesome.”

For the 31-year-old BJJ black belt, the victory holds special significance because it proved his ability to fight through some seriously tough spots.

According to Tonon, this was exactly the type of knockdown, drag-out war that inspired him to transition into MMA.

He said:

“To be able to struggle through a difficult situation and then come back, to be able to build that sense, to be able to have that faith in yourself that you’re going to be able to overcome the obstacle even when things don’t go great … is a big part of mixed martial arts, and it’s a big part of why I got involved.

“It felt really good to me to have a tough time in the first round and then come out swinging in the second round and still be aggressive, and still come out like I wanted. It meant a lot to me, you know? It speaks to my character, I think, and it proved that to myself if I didn’t already know it.”

Garry Tonon Targets Another ONE Featherweight World Title Shot

Garry Tonon’s jaw-dropping submission victory over Shamil Gasanov represented a massive leap forward in his renewed hunt for featherweight MMA gold.

“The Lion Killer” knew it was a risky fight. After all, the Dagestani wrestling specialist came in with a pristine 13-0 career record and had competed just once in ONE, giving Tonon little opportunity to assess his overall skill set.

Afterward, the American explained the difficulty of taking on an opponent like Gasanov:

“You know, it’s a tough thing for people to fight somebody that’s undefeated, that came from somewhere else only had one fight in this organization. You have to take a guess at how good the guy is because he only fought against one of the toughest guys in the world.”

With his victory over the highly regarded #5-ranked contender, Tonon is naturally targeting another crack at the ONE Featherweight World Title.

The grappling legend first challenged for the gold in March 2022, suffering a stunning knockout loss to then-titleholder Thanh Le.

He’s since rebounded from the only defeat of his MMA career with a pair of submission victories, putting himself in prime position for a shot a reigning divisional king Tang Kai or #1-ranked Le.

And for Tonon, challenging for 26 pounds of gold is a no-brainer:

“Of course, I want to fight for the championship. Again, I think that that always makes the biggest difference in your paycheck. That always makes the biggest difference in fame and all these sorts of things.

“I want to fight all the toughest guys in the division. So, you know what, whatever, whenever I can get that championship fight, I want to take it.”

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