Johnny Nunez Plans To Drag Garry Tonon Into ‘Deep Waters’ In Featherweight Debut
More than three years since his first and only appearance in ONE Championship, Johnny Nunez is finally ready to make his long-awaited return to the Circle.
At ONE Fight Night 6: Superbon vs. Allazov on Prime Video, “Johnny Boy” will square off with former ONE Featherweight World Title challenger Garry Tonon in a bout with serious implications for the division.
That MMA showdown is set for January 13 at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, and is arguably the stiffest test of Nunez’s professional career.
Not only is Tonon the #2-ranked featherweight contender, but he’s also widely regarded as one of the most dangerous ground fighters in all of MMA – an elite BJJ black belt who’s capable of submitting any man on the planet.
Nunez, though, trusts in his training.
A former Division 1 collegiate wrestler, the Xtreme Couture representative regularly grapples with elite ground fighters, constantly testing his submission defense against top-tier BJJ specialists.
He told ONEFC.com:
“I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of grapplers. My whole career, I got access to very many high-level grapplers here at my gym and even the other gyms around Las Vegas.”
Nunez will undoubtedly need to lean on that grappling experience against “The Lion Killer,” who is a dangerous threat any time the fight hits the canvas.
At the same time, “Johnny Boy” believes his opponent’s eagerness to attack leg locks can expose him to powerful ground strikes – the type of situation that led to Tonon’s only MMA loss against Thanh Le.
With that in mind, Nunez expects to have an answer if his foe looks to hunt for a submission from his back.
“I’m great at locking people down and controlling a situation like rolling under the legs and coming out on top. I think it’s a fight and everything happens. Every fight is different. Not everything’s gonna go the same way.
“Hopefully, he does try to jump under me, and I can hold him there and land some great shots while I’m holding him on top.”
Of course, defending Tonon’s submissions is just one part of the puzzle.
According to “Johnny Boy,” he also plans to use his pressure and pace, hardened through years of grueling practices in the wrestling room, to wear down and stop his opponent late in their bout.
The American said:
“The ideal way would probably take him into deep waters and finish him in the third. I love to take other fighters into deep waters and drown them. I know I got the stamina to go as long as anybody. I see it happening that way.”
Johnny Nunez Credits ‘Evolved’ Training, Happier Mindset
Nunez’s return to the Circle on January 13 will also mark his debut in the featherweight MMA division.
And as he embarks on his new journey after previously competing at lightweight, he feels the drop in weight hasn’t given him any issues:
“I think it’s been great. My weight’s already been down. I just have to fine-tune the last few things before the fight in a few weeks.”
The transition to a new division has partially been facilitated by Nunez’s revamped approach to training.
After a lifetime of wrestling, the rigors of a career in professional MMA, and now fatherhood, he’s finally found the perfect formula for the optimal training mindset.
Above all, the 37-year-old says the key has been clearing his mind of life’s many stressors, allowing him to focus on – and truly enjoy – the grind of training.
“My training process evolved in a lot of different ways, mainly mentally. Now that I got two kids to fight for it’s been more of a mindset for me to be in a better place for training and not feel so stressed about making money or providing for my kids.”
“Now it’s just about having fun and enjoying the whole process, enjoying the journey.”