This Friday, 4 December, the global fan base will be treated to a high-stakes featherweight clash between two of the division’s top contenders.
Matsushima has become a frightening all-around threat with his varied stand-up arsenal, slick wrestling, and devastating knockout power, but his American rival is a multiple-time BJJ No-Gi World Champion who’s been flawless since making the transition to mixed martial arts a few years ago.
Fans and athletes alike are excited about this featherweight battle. Before the action goes down, some of Matsushima and Tonon’s ONE Championship contemporaries shared their thoughts on the matchup.
“Matsushima is an athlete who can strike and grapple without any difficulties. However, his backbone is wrestling. It might sound good to say he is a fighter who can do it all, but on the other hand, it also means he doesn’t have a specific weapon. He also has the energy and stamina to go the full distance.
“Tonon’s possibility as a mixed martial arts athlete is unknown. His grappling is top-notch, but since his style is not easily transferred to mixed martial arts, I don’t think his strength in grappling doesn’t mean he is a strong mixed martial artist.
“If Tonon is the real deal, he will win easily. If not, Matsushima will win a tight game. If I need to choose, I would say Tonon.”
“I don’t think it will go the distance, and Tonon will win via submission.
“Tonon’s grappling is world-caliber since he trains with the Danaher Death Squad, and he has been utilizing that well since transitioning into mixed martial arts. How he sets up takedowns and uses his ground game is very superior.
“However, Matsushima is equipped with good grappling skills, too. I think he will try to use that to keep the fight on the feet. His power will be put to the test against Tonon.
“On the other hand, Tonon has a good stand-up game, too. He can measure his opponents’ strikes and anticipate them well while looking to drag his opponents down to the canvas. Tonon only needs to be careful with Matsushima’s powerful striking because he often wins via knockout, too – including when he defeated Marat Gafurov.”
“I think undefeated superstar Garry Tonon will come out victorious. He has looked great in his last few outings. He is continuously evolving as a mixed martial artist. Everyone knows about his grappling abilities, but his stand-up is looking superb now. It is a well-rounded skill set.
“This is not going to be an easy fight by any stretch. It is a great measuring stick and a challenge for him, but I truly believe in his world-class abilities. I feel he is ready to win this and prove that he is ready for the next level.”
“Matsushima has a high physical ability and a lot of tools in his pocket, and Tonon’s ground game is top-level. When he takes a back position, he can execute a hold to win against any opponent.
“Since those two fighters have completely different weapons, I think the one that wins will be the one who can carry out their game plan. I think Matsushima wants to do striking, while Tonon wants to do grappling.
“I predict Matsushima will win. Matsushima might get into trouble if Tonon is on his back. But since Matsushima has solid wrestling skills, it could be difficult for Tonon to take things to the ground. I have a feeling that Matsushima will have the upper hand in the striking to dominate the bout.”
“I think Garry Tonon will win. I don’t know much about Koyomi Matsushima’s grappling abilities, but I believe Tonon will find a way to submit him.”
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“I met Garry before his debut (at ONE: IRON WILL in March 2018). That event was held in Thailand, so he came to practice at the Bangkok Fight Lab for the last five days before his fight [with Richard Corminal], which gave me an opportunity to take a closer look at his training.
“Garry has great wrestling skills. It’s at a pro-level, although his skill is not on par with Shinya, who has more experience to make use of the cage or the ring.
“For the striking part, Garry is not inferior to anyone. He is okay, but he is still lacking experience. I remember he tried to improve his striking, but it turns out that his ground game gets worse. You will see his form drop for a while, but when he returns to focus on his wrestling, everything gradually improves.
“I don’t know Koyomi personally, but I know that he has a Kyokushin karate style, which focuses on heavy fists. He is a fighter with a good level of striking skill, but if he has to face a really tough guy like Martin [Nguyen] in a championship fight, he has no chance.
“This battle is 80 percent for Garry winning, but Garry must not underestimate his opponent. He has to control the fight and take down Koyomi to use his ground game because, in the striking game, Koyomi will use his advantage and take the rest of the 20 percent to win for himself.”
“I will go with Garry Tonon. His BJJ skills are insane, and he has a good team behind him. Koyomi Matsushima is actually a great striker, but then again, Tonon’s grappling is crazier.
“Although Tonon is a grappler, he is not afraid of charging forward. Also, he has a height advantage, which could play an important part in their fight. I think Tonon can finish him via submission in the first or second round.”
“I think Matsushima will rely on his striking, and Tonon, despite a strong background in BJJ, will answer that by engaging in a striking battle.
“I think Garry will extend his record. Although Matsushima is a good fighter, once Tonon manages to grab him, it’ll be over. Ground fighting is much more exhausting, and I think Tonon will win it via second-round submission.”
“Matsushima is an aggressive fighter both in striking and grappling. I have an impression that Matsushima is the type of fighter who keeps attacking.
“Tonon’s striking skill is honestly unknown. Considering his mixed martial arts record, he has just started striking. So, I am curious about how much he has grown in the past 18 months. His ground game, however, is in another league.
“I think they might fight a lot on the feet. If Tonon studies Matsushima’s devastating power, punches, and kicks, then Tonon will be the one who becomes wary. If Matsushima can disrupt the pace, then the bout will play out like his last bout against Kim Jae Woong. But if he is caught by Tonon, then Tonon will pick up his pace.
“I don’t want to predict anything – I just want to enjoy the fight. If I make a prediction, I might be biased when I watch the bout. I am genuinely interested in this bout, and I just want to enjoy it. It’s a match either one could win.”
“Matsushima has been doing martial arts since he was a kid, and I have an image that he can do it all. Also, I think he has solid takedown skills and power.
“Tonon is an athlete [who specializes in] the ground game. It is like an example of how a top grappler competes in mixed martial arts. I don’t know how much striking he can do, but he is dominant in submissions, and part of me thinks he can fight just using his grappling skills. He is troublesome because he can’t just do the ground game, but also wrestling.
“I’m not able to predict a winner, so let me refrain from predicting a winner. If Matsushima will win, it will be KO via a crisp big hit or ground-and-pound by dismantling Tonon’s ground game. If Tonon will win, it will be via takedown and using his submissions or ground-and-pound.”