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ONE Championship: What should we expect from Garry Tonon in his MMA debut?

Grappling superstar Garry Tonon has signed with ONE Championship and the question that we're all wondering is what can we expect from him in his MMA debut?


ONE Championship today announced that American grappling phenom Garry Tonon is on the pathway to making his MMA debut after signing an exclusive contract with the organization.

Garry Tonon is a fast and furious no-gi jiu-jitsu specialist with extensive experience in elite submission grappling competitions around the world. After featuring in a ‘Grappling Super-Match’ with Shinya Aoki at a previous ONE Championship event, Tonon clarified that his ambition was to compete in mixed martial arts one day.

Well, that time is approaching sooner rather than later now he has officially signed with a mixed martial arts organization.

ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong stated: 

It is with great excitement that I announce the newest addition to ONE Championship’s elite list of global martial arts superstars, American submission grappling legend Garry Tonon. Fans have a lot to look forward to when Garry finally makes his debut with us.

Sityodtong is correct in saying that fans have plenty to look forward to. Tonon is a submission machine who often snags some of the most ludicrous submissions seen in the sport.

Here’s what to expect from Garry Tonon when he eventually makes his MMA debut:

  1. 1 Heel hooks


    Well, the persistent threat of a heel hook, at least.

    The majority of Garry Tonon's jiu-jitsu learning has come via way of the "Danaher Death Squad". John Danaher is an expert leg locker and has not just encouraged his students to learn leg locks, but evolve the range of submissions as we know it today. Gordon Ryan, Eddie Cummings and Garry Tonon are all products of the "Danaher Death Squad" system and now all possess arguably the most dangerous heel hook strategies and finishing movements.

    If you're wondering how Garry Tonon will be able to catch an elite MMA grappler with a heel hook, look no further than when he caught Shinya Aoki with one in his 'Grappling Super-Match'. While there were no strikes permitted in the contest, Tonon eventually overcame Aoki's overwhelming pressure and grappling to set up one of his patented heel hook submissions.

  2. 2 Outstanding back control


    Once Garry Tonon gets your back, there's next to no way of escaping it.

    This is the case for some of the highest rated jiu-jitsu technicians in the world and their methods and strategies of escaping back control are much more developed than what we see in mixed martial arts. Once Tonon gets there, not only does he keep you there, but he'll eventually wear you down and submit you with a rear-naked choke.

    For Tonon, his back control will be the strongest of all his existing tools when he transitions to MMA. Not only is it a threatening position, but it is also a comfortable one for the attacker as they are invulnerable to effective strikes.

    We should be most intrigued by what surprises Tonon has for opponents when he takes the back though. Whether he will incorporate more striking into his strategy, or simply work for a choke remains to be seen.

  3. 3 Explosive fights


    Garry Tonon won't be comfortable grinding out decisions. And in fact, his style probably isn't the most decision-orientated.

    Yes, he is a capable wrestler, but Shinya Aoki sure proved that a grappler who has specialized in MMA can outwork him and maintain better positions for the majority of the contest.

    Tonon also won't be able to take his time and look for submissions on the mat. This is simply because there is little time to remain patient once the fight hits the mat inside the ONE Championship cage.

    ONE Championship rules permit all kinds of destructive blows to the head of a downed opponent, unlike the UFC. So expect Tonon not to solely pull guard and attempt submissions, rather he is going to need a completely well-rounded mixed martial arts game if he hopes to compete with the best in the organization.

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Jake Nichols

Jake is RealSport's MMA editor. Based in South East Asia, Jake provides comprehensive coverage of ONE Championship while also sharing his thoughts on UFC and Bellator.

ONE Championship: What should we expect from Garry Tonon in his MMA debut?

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