Multi-time grappling champion Garry Tonon may be one of the top prospects on the entire ONE Championship roster but that doesn’t mean he’s getting a marquee spot on this weekend’s card from Japan.

With four title fights and the debuts of both Eddie Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson on the main card, Tonon will compete in the third bout of the night on the prelims at ONE: ‘A New Era’ .

As much as that might seem like a slight given the expectations that Tonon has for his career in mixed martial arts, the New Jersey native has absolutely no problem earning his way to the main card, especially when looking at the legends fighting on Sunday night in Japan.

“They’re stacking this card left and right, top to bottom. I can’t get too picky about where I’m going to be placed on,” Tonon said with a laugh.

Big names

“I’m on a card with Eddie Alvarez, I’m on a card with Demetrious Johnson, Shinya (Aoki); I’ve had three MMA fights. I don’t expect to be higher on a card than those guys.

“I’m just out there trying to get my experience and get these fights under my belt. I’m trying to eventually win a championship.”

That last part is particularly important to Tonon because since the day he signed with ONE Championship, the path was always expected to lead to a title fight.

Right now, however, Tonon is three fights into a new career and as much as he wants to eventually face the best fighters that ONE Championship can throw at him, he’s humble enough to admit he’s not ready yet.

Gradual progression

It’s a big part of the reason why Tonon has been so pleased with the progression of his opposition since first making his debut last year.

“I want to challenge myself. I want to progress but not just get thrown to the wolves immediately,” Tonon said.

“There should definitely be a step up with every fight that I take and this is definitely a step up.”

This weekend he faces Anthony Engelen, who comes into the fight with an 8-5 record overall and has more than four times the experience as Tonon. The Dutchman is best known for a highlight reel finish at ONE: ‘Heart of the Lion’ last November.

Tonon was on the same card and remembers hearing the crowd reaction when Engelen dropped Meas Meu with a head kick after just 39 seconds,

“I see the replay of this head kick. It was crazy,” Tonon said.

“What a knockout. So that’s been scaring me to say the least, just knowing that’s what I’m up against.”

Gulf in experience

Tonon is also aware he is the less experienced of the two fighters, at least in terms of MMA,

“Seeing that KO power with the kick and his record is a lot better than a lot of the guys I have fought. He’s got a better record, more experience, more cage time, much more power considering the KOs that he’s had. As far as danger is concerned, he is the most dangerous guy I’ve fought so far.”

As much as he respects the imminent threat posed to him by Engelen in this matchup, Tonon is still very confident he will have a chance to shine.

His fight may be on the prelims but Tonon says that a big win on a card of this magnitude is exactly what he needs for his career right now and that’s why he plans to put on another jaw-dropping performance.

“All eyes are going to be on this card,” Tonon said.

“So many eyes are going to be on this card and if I’m able to do something impressive, it’s going to make a big statement.”