When Garry Tonon made his ONE Championship debut in 2018 he had no prior MMA experience. It was a step into the unknown for the American who now has five wins to his name.

That spotless 5-0 record is testament to the fact that Tonon has made the transition look seamless. As he prepares to face Koyomi Matsushima in a possible title eliminator at ONE: ‘Big Bang’ the 29 year old warns he is a completely different fighter from the one who first stepped inside the cage two years ago,

“I’m no longer feeling things out when I’m fighting anymore, or testing the waters with striking. When I go out to fight, I go out to win and crush my opponents as quickly as possible. So, I think this will be another situation where I am very dominant very early.”

Grappling prowess

While Tonon’s grappling prowess has been well proven he has impressed with his all round ability. The American looks extremely comfortable in the cage but says the learning process never stops,

“I wouldn’t say there’s one specific skill that I’ve been working on, but I’ve just been trying to get better at mixed martial arts. I have a long road ahead of me.”

The secret to Tonon’s immediate success is an awareness of his limitations. He knew from day one that approaching an MMA fight like a grappling match would only get him so far,

“Jiu-jitsu doesn’t actually exist in mixed martial arts and when I say that, I mean it in its purest form. It’s a different thing. You integrate jiu-jitsu into these other skills to become a good fighter. That’s what we always worked on from day one.”

Aggressive approach 

He has finished all his fights inside the distance and Tonon says this aggressive approach is very deliberate,

“I want to be able to do damage when I get into any dominant position. You got mount, great, but if all you do is sit in mount, and you’re not doing any damage, then there’s a problem there. The guy’s going to get back up and try to tee off on your head again.”

The standard of Tonon’s opposition has been steadily increasing. He was impressed by Matsushima’s showing at ONE: ‘Dawn of Heroes’ even though the Japanese fighter fell short in his title shot,

“I’m fighting somebody now that has fought for the title before and did pretty well, I have to say. He did get stopped, but it was competitive. I think Martin (Nguyen) was struggling to deal with him in certain parts of that fight.”

No guarantees

One more win could and possibly should be enough to secure Tonon a title shot. Nguyen no longer has the belt, Thanh Le was crowned as the new champion at ONE: ‘Inside the Matrix’, and the American says he hasn’t been given any guarantees,

“They could make me have another fight before I fight for the title but I definitely think that by winning, it puts me in a really good spot where I have the leverage to say, ‘I get the next crack at that thing.’”

Fast finish

Tonon has had to quarantine in Singapore ahead of this fight. He has had plenty of time in his hands and knows his upcoming opponent inside out,

“I’ve paid close attention to what (he) does. He goes in and out a lot with kicks, and he kind of fights from a distance and explodes forward into takedowns. He also has a good reactive takedown. I’ll be mindful of all of those things.”

Tonon’s fights are not long, drawn out affairs. They tend to finish fast and he promises Friday’s bout will be no exception,

“I see this fight ending earlier rather than later. I predict a first-round submission or TKO.”