Garry Tonon was tending to his media duties in the run-up to his next professional MMA Fight against Koyomi Matsushima at ONE FC Big Bang when the question of fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov in a grappling match surfaced. Interestingly, it wasn’t anything to do with Tonon’s blossoming MMA career and instead, it was regarding a grappling match between the Danaher Death Squad member and the recently-retired, greatest UFC Lightweight Champion in history. While Tonon was confident of his victory in a pure grappling match, he went to the effort of explaining his logic that it’s simply his world whereas MMA is Khabib’s:
“I think if we ever had a pure grappling match, I’d pretty handily submit Khabib. The same way if I had a pure wrestling match against somebody who is an extremely dominant wrestler. More than likely, they would beat me. But it would still be a fun, cool experience either way.”
“I don’t see how anybody could debate that. People will because they’re uneducated about martial arts. A pure grappling match, it’s something that I’ve been doing my whole life. He’s been focused on MMA his whole life. He has somewhat of an edge there.”
“In pure jiu-jitsu, it’s hard to believe that he’d be able to do anything other than maybe edge out a draw or something, depending on the ruleset. If it was submission only and there was no ref’s decision. Maybe he could not get submitted. That would be the best hope that he would possibly have. I think it would be a very dominant performance on my part if I ever fought Khabib in a jiu-jitsu or submission grappling contest.”
Garry Tonon then went on to explain that he believes the edge he has over Khabib Nurmagomedov in a pure grappling match also stems from his specialization in leglocks, an area of BJJ that’s not really seen too often in modern MMA.
“I think for Khabib, probably the thing that he doesn’t encounter more than anything else would be leg locks. It’s a very under-utilised thing in mixed martial arts. The likelihood that he’s in a mixed martial arts room where there’s anybody attacking his legs consistently in a way where he’d be prepared for a threat like that is probably minimal.”
Tonon has clearly thought about the topic to a certain extent, given that he already had answer for the fans that would no doubt be considering Khabib’s background in Sambo as potentially enough to fight off his relentless leg-attacks:
“In Sambo, there are some leg locks. But it’s completely different than being in a room like I’m in on a day-to-day basis with the best jiu-jitsu guys in the world trying to submit each other with leg locks all the time. The level of preparation for something like that is completely different. That would be the most obvious place where there would be a discrepancy in skill. He’s probably well-prepared for most other submission threats because most other submission threats, upper body threats, are used pretty regularly in MMA.”
For now, Tonon’s focus must be on his fight against Matsushima on December 4th and getting over that hurdle before considering his next move. Moreover, he will have to ensure that his grappling is up to his usual standard all alone as he will have to compete without John Danaher in his corner, as a result of travel restrictions in Singapore.
The below video comes courtesy of the official Asian Persuasion MMA YouTube channel: