Garry Tonon

Garry Tonon: “Anybody that’s stuck around long enough has been in one of those five round wars”

This weekend, Jiu Jitsu standout and phenom Garry Tonon takes on Thanh Le for the ONE Championship Lightweight title. There, he goes in at only 6-0 and looks to make history and become champion in his sport. Tonon sat down with us to talk about the upcoming fight, ADCC, and more.


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Earlier in the year, Garry Tonon was announced to be returning to ADCC, the biggest grappling tournament in the world. The thought of being a champion in ONE Championship and ADCC in the same year is not something attained before. But Tonon is willing to take a try at it. However, he knows what his main career is and he’s put all the effort and focus into training for his mixed martial arts career.

“I do have to say that fighting is number one. I always like to compete in grappling, specifically ADCC, it’s a huge event. It’s the biggest in our sport, so I always want to try to be involved with that the best I can. So I do want to stay involved but especially now that I’m fighting for the title, that’s absolutely being priority. I’ve mixed in a little bit of grappling competitions here and there a little earlier in my career. But now I’ve got to really buckle down and get serious.”

But being a champ-champ of sorts is really enticing and Tonon is going to try his damnedest to do so. “I definitely think it can be done. Ironically, the last time I competed at ADCC, I had one of the best performances. So I think it can be done. I’ve been grappling for a really long time.”

Garry Tonon vs. Thanh Le at ONE Championship: Lights Out

Headlining the event, Garry Tonon feels he is prepared for the chaotic nature of a Thanh Le fight. He believes that his training is enough to put him in there with anyone in the world. But he knows that he cannot simply rely on the grappling. It’s a mixed martial arts fight, not a grappling match, and Tonon acknowledges the unpredictability of the sport as a whole.

“It all comes down to what ends up happening out there. It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen with the volatile nature of the sport. It’s like there’s so many different things that could happen. That’s what I train for every day. I train five rounds every day. That’s kind of something that I need to be ready for at all times is a five round war. Even the best in the world have had that at some point in their career.” Tonon continues, “Anybody that’s stuck around long enough has been in one of those five round wars. And this could be my war. I don’t know. It could also be a very tactical fight on the part of myself where I’m able to get a hold of the leg and I submit the guy.”

That said, Tonon still knows where his bread is buttered and knows that if the fight goes to the ground, he’s in for a fun night.

“I think anyone in the world that I can submit.”

Tonon and John Danaher

Earlier in the week, we talked about how the rapport between Danaher and Tonon in Jiu Jitsu plays well into his transition to mixed martial arts. Tonon goes on to further talk about that aspect and knows that the tools given by John Danaher is a brilliant thing to have in his corner.

“John knows the ins and outs of what I’m good at, what I’m not, on what ways I’m talented, and what ways I struggle. So it’s easy for him to develop a program that’s specific to me. It’s interesting, every room has it’s ups and downs. I don’t think anywhere in the world is perfect. We may not have a room full of killers. Yeah, Georges St-Pierre and trains from us and I’ve gotten a lot of sparring in with him. But he’s not in there every day and I don’t have ten Georges’ in the room.”

Small operations seem to be the thing in MMA now. From Danaher to Trevor Wittman, these smaller teams are catching on as to give the fighters more attention, which in turn, makes them better fighters. Danaher is just that to an extreme level with Garry Tonon. He says that having the camps be curtailed around him really works in his favor as a mixed martial artist.

“I don’t have ten high level UFC fighters sparring around with me every day. It’s a plus and it’s a minus. It’s a plus because I pretty much get all the attention. The program is curtailed for me to win the championship. There are guys there and we try to improve them and get those guys better. We help them and they help me…The point is he doesn’t have to look after ten high level UFC fighters in there. It’s just me. The downside obviously is you don’t have the looks and sparring from the high level fighters there.”

Tonon takes on Thanh Le this weekend at ONE Championship: Lights Out. He looks to capture gold and, should he, become the next prodigy in MMA. If Tonon does get the belt, look for him to only get better and for him to hold on to the title for a long, long time.


In addition to covering the ONE Championship for My MMA News, Blaine Henry, the author, also analyzes fights from all combat sports across the globe. 

Blaine Henry can be found on Twitter, on his podcast, and Patreon.


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