Finnish grappler Toni “Dynamite” Tauru (11-5-1) may have suffered defeat three months ago, but he has opted to quickly jump back on the horse and get some momentum on his side.
This time, the 32-year-old Finn will face off against Evolve MMA’s Leandro “Brodinho” Issa (13-6) at ONE: CONQUEST OF KINGS, live on Saturday, 5 August, from the Cotai Arena in Macao.
Issa, who is making his return to ONE Championship after spending the past three years competing in North America, is not an easy rebound fight. The submission specialist is a BJJ World Champion who has victories over elite opposition including Yusup Saadulaev, Soo Chul Kim and two-time DEEP Featherweight Champion Masakazu Imanari.
The “Dynamite” Finn welcomes the challenge of another top-notch grappler, and although there is a high probability the match will end up on the ground, he is ready for all scenarios.
“It depends on what kind of plan we each have going into the fight,” he says. “Either way, it is going to be high-level striking or wrestling.”
The last time Tauru took to the cage was in April, when he challenged top bantamweight contender Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY. It was an intense first round, with the Finn catching a leg kick and nearly dragging the Team Lakay standout to the ground. But the Filipino suddenly overwhelmed Tauru, attacking him with a barrage of punches and earning a TKO victory.
Reflecting on the defeat, “Dynamite” makes no excuses. “He was the better man that night,” he humbly states.
“I felt great in that fight, and was very confident after two minutes in the striking exchanges. I was able to check all his kicks, and I got my own strikes in. Maybe I should have stayed up, but my game plan was eventually to go for the takedown. When that time came, he caught me. Well, that was that.”
Tauru took just one week off after the defeat, instead deciding to start honing his skills in the gym right away. Defeat had not made him feel sorry for himself, but inspired him to get better instead. To compete at the highest levels of martial arts competition, an athlete must continually add to their skill set. Tauru acknowledges that, and has evolved accordingly.
“I am the kind of athlete who is always in shape and training,” he reveals. “You always have new stuff to learn, and that is what’s so great about it.”
At this point, it is imperative he performs to the level he believes he can. With three stoppage losses in his last four ONE Championship bouts, he needs to make an impression in the heavily-stacked bantamweight division.
After all, it is a far cry from the days the former ONE Bantamweight World Title Challenger used to terrorise Europe. At his best, Tauru strung together 10 straight victories, including seven submissions in a row to capture the Cage Warriors Bantamweight Championship.
Saturday, 5 July August be a huge turning point in his career, but Tauru will not be playing it safe to secure victory. He will be aiming to do it in style.
"We will see a finish,” he states. “I am the kind of fighter who goes all in, and looks for the finish all the time. That is how I fight, and that is what kind of fight I like to see and give.”