Garry Tonon Talks Overcoming First Defeat, Contest With Shamil Gasanov At ONE Fight Night 12

ONE Championship’s Garry Tonon was knocking on the door of featherweight glory in 2022, but his challenge to the divisional throne resulted in a devastating loss. 

The American grappling superstar has put that to bed, though, and he’s ready to mount a new run at gold, starting with Shamil Gasanov in the co-main event of ONE Fight Night 12: Superlek vs. Khalilov this Saturday, 15th July.

Tonon’s first run at the ONE Featherweight Championship saw him go unbeaten in the weight bracket. He defeated notable fighters like Sung Jong Lee, Yoshiki Nakahara and Koyomi Matsushima to earn his chance to challenge then-titleholder Thanh Le in March 2022.

His Title charge came crashing down against the Vietnamese-American scrapper, however, who handed “The Lion Killer” his first defeat in mixed martial arts after only 56 seconds of action.

The loss hit Tonon hard, but he has since returned to winning ways, scoring a submission win against Johnny Nunez at ONE Fight Night 6 this past January, and now he sees it as an important lesson to learn.

“To have a loss and then come back is a bit of relief. A little bit of a weight off your shoulders. Because you can do it; it’s now proven,” Tonon said.

“To be able to have that adversity – and not just a loss, a very dramatic knockout that I suffered. To be able to come back and compete successfully, it does something for your confidence. 

“There’s still something that’s always going to be a little shaken by the fact that you have that loss, but the experience that someone gains from going through something and eventually overcoming it is super valuable.”

As he looks ahead to his upcoming battle, the 31-year-old feels excited to face a fellow grappler in Gasanov.

The unbeaten Russian recently referred to Tonon was a “dream opponent,” and this change of pace from the weighted words and heated barbs that opponents often throw at each other is something that “The Lion Killer” appreciates. 

That said, though, the sentimental value of the fight will not distract him from jumping at the chance to submit “The Cobra.”

“I like it from a standpoint of respect. I think that’s cool. To be known as somebody who people look at and think, ‘That’s the guy I need to beat to really prove myself.’ That feels good,” Tonon stated. 

“From a standpoint of what’s smart for his career? I don’t know if that was the smartest move if you ask me. It’s tough, man. I respect it. He really genuinely does want to be known as the best grappler in mixed martial arts. That’s what he’s saying when he calls me out. So, you know, a lot of respect for that.

“For sure, though, I’m going to submit this guy. It’s just a question of how.”

Severe MMA Staff

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