Five-time EBI champion Garry ‘The Lion Killer’ Tonon is set to make his MMA debut vs Richard Corminal (4-3) at ONE Championship: Iron Will on March 24, 2018. The event will be shown on PPV from Bangkok, Thailand in what will be the co-main event of the evening. The renowned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt chats with me about this fight, his transition from grappling to combat sports and why he signed with ONE back in October of last year.
You signed with ONE back in October but was there any other organizations you considered signing with?
There was another organization in Asia that reached out to me. Other than that nobody specifically contacted me. There were other places I could have went and signed a contract with but those were the only two that reached out. The main reason I stuck with ONE was because of the relationship I had built from that grappling match that I did with them. I got to know their organization and the people that worked for them. I’m around people that work with these other organizations and no one seemed particularly enthused as to how the are treated, not to name any organization specifically. I got a good general feeling that everyone was pretty happy in how they were treated with ONE. I felt the same way so that was the bulk of my decision.
When you decided to give MMA a go, was there any chance you would have done an amateur bout first?
If I decided to do amateur or go with a semi-pro organisation, someone who isn’t the UFC or Bellator. The main problem I see with my teammates and people around is getting fight experience. Especially with someone that has a background like me. I feel like at the point in time in my career where I need a lot of cage time and I believe I can do that with ONE. I won’t have to worry as much as about people pulling out of the fight at the last minute.
Have you always wanted to do MMA or was this a more recent interest in the sport?
MMA really didn’t enter my mind until my own instructor, Tom DeBlass starting training for fights. So I came up with him for the first five or six years of my grappling career. He started MMA about two years into my training. I did a little bit of MMA when I was about 18. That was when I got interested in it.
Now that you are training for MMA, will the number of BJJ matches you do decline at all?
Yea absolutely. I intentionally didn’t take any matches during this fight camp. My last match was in December and I didn’t even want to do that but I had already committed to it before I knew when I was fighting. I stopped grappling for the time being and I’ll take this first fight and see how it goes and how I feel. My contract is such that I can do both. Either with ONE or elsewhere. I may take a grappling match but I won’t do a full fight camp for a match like I used too.
Has there been anything in your MMA training so far that is harder you thought?
Everything (laughs). It’s just a hard sport in general. In jiu-jitsu, you can go 100% without really getting injured. MMA is a lot more high impact.
Your opponent for the debut is Richard Corminal who is (4-3) in his career, did his MMA experience give you any concerns when booking this fight?
He definitely has a thicker record than most people would be used to facing in their first fight. Does it concern me to some degree? Sure but at some point, I’m going to have to face someone with more experience anyways. I’m not really worried about it. It’s not like I’m facing a specialist in one thing.
Do you feel any pressure to show off your stand-up striking in your debut?
Pressure would be the wrong word. If anything I feel pressure to use my grappling skills. I think it would make everyone around me more comfortable to take this thing to the ground. In my head, I would love to do as much stand-up as possible, to get some experience. My initial inclination is play around with the stand-up as much as possible.
You have competed in a cage before at ONE against Aoki, how much will that experience help you for your debut?
Yea I think that helps. I think the major is help is having being involved with ONE before. But I definitely agree with you that being in the ONE cage will help. Shinya (Aoki) used the cage really well in our match. So I think it changed my outlook on how to prepare for this fight.
Before I let you go, do you have any prediction for your fight and do you have any words for your opponent on the 24th?
I normally talk a lot of s*** but I think I’m going to ease up so I don’t embarrass myself. I don’t want to talk a bunch of s*** and get knocked out first punch. Let me what until I develop a little bit of a record before I start talking s*** to these guys. I don’t have too much to say to him. In terms of a prediction, I like to believe I’ve developed some stand-up skills. There is no tape of Garry Tonon stand-up. That’s going to be a big question mark in his mind. My prediction is that people will be surprised how quickly my stand-up has developed. Or maybe they will see me get completely embarrassed, we’ll find out.
Listen to the full audio interview with ‘The Lion Killer’ Garry Tonon below.