Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon is set to clash with Shinya Aoki at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES, which takes place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday Night, 26 May. If this match is like any of the New Yorker’s previous matches, then this will be an instant classic.
In just over four years of international competition, the 25-year-old has already compiled an astounding resume, and holds a 55-19-1 record in grappling competition. During that time, he has created a plethora of ‘must-see’ moments that are worth watching over and over again.
As he inches closer to the epic showdown with the former ONE Lightweight World Champion, we’ve put together this list to show you just why Tonon has become such an international superstar in the BJJ world.
#5 Against Rafael Domingos At EBI 5, 2015
This quick match from EBI 5 in 2015 packs a lot of action in a short period of time. Within the space of just three minutes, Tonon gets put on the defensive when Domingos takes him down and briefly passes his guard, and then quickly rallies from behind to score a decisive submission win.
Once “The Lion Killer” recomposed his guard and then snatched up Domingos’ right leg, the entire crowd knew what was coming next. The Brazilian turned and tried to escape, but Tonon moved his opponent’s heel over to the opposite side of his own body and finished with an inside heel hook.
#4 Against Dillon Danis At ADCC 2015
Two of submission grappling’s most outspoken and brash competitors met at ADCC in 2015. In this match, Tonon played it cool and slick by finishing with yet another inside heel hook.
The New York-based jiu-jitsu practitioner showcased his extensive arsenal in this single contest, both hitting a takedown and effectively fighting off of his own back. That night, it was clear Tonon backed up his words with actions.
#3 Against Stephen Martinez At EBI 5, 2015
In addition to defeating the aforementioned Domingos, Tonon competed once more that night against Stephen Martinez, and that contest is a perfect example as to why his well-deserved nickname is “The Lion Killer.”
Tonon scrambled his way to Martinez’s back and latched on a rear-naked choke grip. But instead of locking up his opponent’s torso with his legs and feet, the New Yorker shifted to the side and went to one knee, where he finished with a good squeeze.
#2 Against Rousimar Palhares At Polaris 3, 2016
This action packed submission-only Polaris 3 match back in 2016 ended in a draw, but once again Tonon showed superior technique, pound-for-pound. Palhares not only significantly outweighed Tonon, but remains one of the most feared submission specialists in submission grappling and mixed martial arts history.
The New Yorker rode out tough moments and big slams from the hulking Brazilian, and even threatened with his own holds in this back-and-forth affair.
#1 Against Masakazu Imanari At Polaris 2, 2015
Tonon’s inside heel hook submission victory over the mixed martial arts legend at Polaris 2 in 2015 could be considered a symbolic passing of the guard. Imanari pioneered the use of leg locks in mixed martial arts competition, the very same submissions the American himself has worked hard to become a specialist in.
By beating Imanari, specifically with a leg lock, Tonon proved that his submission game was on par, if not better, than anyone in the world.