If Shamil Gasanov thought he could get under Garry Tonon’s skin by calling him out then it appears he is sadly mistaken. The BJJ black belt has absolutely no doubt that he will win by submission at ONE Fight Night 13 this Saturday.

Tonon sees it as a sign of respect that Gasanov has called for the fight. But he does not think it was a particularly smart career move,

“From a standpoint of respect. I think that’s cool, to be known as somebody who people look at and go, ‘man that’s the guy I need to beat to really prove myself’. From a standpoint of what’s smart for his career? I don’t know if that was the smartest move, if you ask me.”

Tough fight

Gasanov is a grappler. But his credentials pale in comparison to those of Tonon who is a decorated BJJ black belt.

In Tonon’s eyes this is a clash between two fighters who have very similar styles. But the American believes he is simply better at what he does than Gasanov,

”If there’s anybody in the division who’s going to be a better grappler than him, it’s going to be me, right? So this stylistic matchup of him using grappling to try to beat opponents versus another dude who’s really, really good at that makes that one of the toughest fights for him to win.”

Elite rivalry

The rivalry between Russia and the U.S. has been playing out in elite MMA promotions all over the world. Tonon is excited to be testing his mettle against an opponent who comes from the same part of the world as Khabib Nurmagomedov,

“I look at his game the same way that I look at my game. This guy is trying to control and submit people. He may as well be a jiu-jitsu guy. From a fight-selling standpoint, Dagestani-Russian wrestler versus the jiu-jitsu guy, okay, I get it.”

But he has been studying Gasanov and does not see him as the typical Dagestani mixed martial artist,

“I actually think he’s a little different than some of the Dagestani-Russian wrestling types because he tends to favor submitting people over beating them up on the ground. So, I think it’s a cool stylistic matchup to fight somebody who’s another really tough grappler.”

Inside the distance 

Tonon has only ever lost one fight and that was against former ONE Championship featherweight champion Thanh Le. Gasanov might be undefeated but the American is completely confident that not only will he win this fight, he will do so inside the distance,

“For sure, I’m going to submit this guy. It’s just a question of how. What’s the most likely way of doing it? Maybe some sort of guillotine.”