After a rough 2022, Garry Tonon is back – and it’s like he never left.
“The Lion Killer” earned his second consecutive victory in the featherweight division this past Saturday, 15th July, at ONE Fight Night 12, becoming the first man to defeat Shamil Gasanov in 14 professional bouts.
The much-anticipated battle played out as many expected it would, with Tonon and Gasanov showcasing their immense grappling skills to the crowd inside Bangkok, Thailand’s Lumpinee Boxing Stadium.
After finding himself on the defensive in the first frame, Tonon’s patience paid dividends early in the second stanza, as he found room for a kneebar, which he sank in to tap his Russian foe.
The submission finish kicks off an impressive run for the #2-ranked featherweight contender. He has back-to-back wins for the first time since 2020, and he sees his handling of “The Cobra’s” threat in the first round as a positive step towards building his confidence.
“I’m very happy with myself,” he said.
“To be able to struggle through a difficult situation and then come back to build that sense to be able to have that faith in yourself that you’re going to be able to overcome the obstacle even when things don’t go great.
“It felt really good to me to have a tough time in the first round and then come out swinging the second round and still be aggressive like I wanted to win that fight. So it meant a lot to me, you know. It speaks to my character, I think, and it proved that to myself if I didn’t already know it.”
A second run at the divisional crown has been a goal for “The Lion Killer” for some time, and Friday’s performance will certainly keep him deep in the conversation.
He slipped in his first challenge of the ONE featherweight world championship, suffering a devastating knockout loss at the hands of then-king Thanh Le in March 2022.
This time around, Tonon is coming for all the marbles, and he doesn’t plan on stopping at featherweight.
With two-weight stardom weighing on the 31-year-old’s mind, he has eyes on taking out former ONE featherweight and lightweight world champion Martin Nguyen to put himself on the right track.
“Of course I want to fight for the championship,” said Tonon.
“I want to fight all the toughest guys in the division. Whenever I can get that championship fight, I want to take it. This division is getting tougher and tougher. Shamil was one of those guys. It’s a total wildcard.
“I want to fight Martin Nguyen fight at some point. Let’s knock these pins down in this division, and then let’s go fight for a championship in the weight class up. I’d love to do it in Martin Nguyen-style and win in two divisions in this organization. That’d be great.”