As a child, Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon learned of sports from the silver screen. However, after taking part in a number of different sports, he learned that movies were not the same as real life.
“When I first started doing other sports, I think I was under the impression, as a child watching all these movies and things like that, that a kid could pick up a lucky baseball bat, and all of a sudden he is the best baseball player on earth,” the 25-year-old says.
“I was always under the assumption that I was just going to find a sport and be good, and that never happened. Every sport that I tried, I did just okay in it. I never really put the extra effort in.”
However, Tonon then found the martial art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and his life changed forever.
“When I found jiu-jitsu, I started to realize that if I wanted to get good at this, I really was going to have to put the actual work in. I realized I am going to have to study, and I have to do things outside the gym, and come to the gym as much as I can if I really do want to be the best at this,” he says. “That is what jiu-jitsu taught me, and that is kind of the first appeals of jiu-jitsu for me.”
“The Lion Killer” earned his black belt in 2013, and has since become one of the most successful and prolific submission grapplers on the planet because of his hard work. One of his most notable accolades is being a four-time Eddie Bravo Invitational Champion, which he won en route to a 55-19-1 record in grappling competition.
Tonon trains and teaches full-time at the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York City. Along with his teaching, he has also taken to Muay Thai and boxing. The fact that he is competing against the best in the world has shown in his hard work, and the hectic schedule that he maintains.
At ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES, “The Lion Killer” will take on Shinya Aoki in a Grappling Super-Match, and he knows that the Japanese warrior presents a dangerous foe.
The calm demeanor of Aoki should not fool anyone. The black belt and former ONE Lightweight World Champion pushes for the finish in each and every outing, whether it is in submission grappling or mixed martial arts.
Tonon knows that Aoki will bring his world-class talent, and his flying submission techniques, to their upcoming showdown. After all, that has been crucial to all of the Japanese warrior’s success.
“He has been doing it really effectively for a really long time. He is a person that I deeply respect for being able to use our martial art, jiu-jitsu, for the purpose of actually doing damage in mixed martial arts,” Tonon explains.
“That is kind of the whole reason we are doing this; Jiu-jitsu, as a fighting style, is not just for control purposes. It is done to be able to finish a fight, and that is what Shinya Aoki does. He is an extremely exciting fighter, and I am very excited to have an opportunity to test my grappling mettle against him.”
Tonon believes he will be able to outwork Aoki the longer the match goes on. The American believes his Asian counterpart will have a tough time keeping up with his transitions as the match plays out.
“The main issue for Shinya here is not going to be at the beginning of the fight. It is not going to be early on in the match,” he begins. “His main problem or weakness he is going to have – it is not so much to any fault of his own – is the pure fact that the majority of the training he does is for mixed martial arts, and the majority of what he does is against other fighters,” he explains.
“I spend all day, every day, grappling other grapplers. I think that a lot of the movements that he does are going to be perfect,and he is going to do a good job defending at first. But I believe that once he feels how sharp all of my transitions are, because I do this each and every day, that once he feels those transitions happening one after another, he is going to start getting left behind.”
Even though Tonon believes he will be able to beat Aoki, he feels that this is just the beginning of a long rivalry. “The Lion Killer” suspects that following their submission showdown, the ex-ONE Lightweight World Champion will call him out for a mixed martial arts bout.
“Who knows what is going to happen with this match, but I have good reason to believe that if I submit him, well, number one he probably will not be too happy about that,” he says. “But number two, I believe it will probably be grounds for him to challenge me to a mixed martial arts bout. I am getting ready now, for if he does.”