Since he became the ONE Featherweight World Champion by knocking out Marat “Cobra” Gafurov in 2017, Nguyen has maintained an iron grip on his throne with three consecutive title defenses.
However, Nguyen’s reign as the featherweight king might come under serious threat if Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon has his way.
Tonon, who is a member of the infamous “Danaher Death Squad,” has wins at Polaris, IBJJF, and the Eddie Bravo Invitational, which makes him one of the greatest BJJ competitors ever.
Earlier in February, the American took to Twitter to call out Nguyen.
“The Lion Killer,” who is 5-0, believes that a clash with Nguyen would be better for the World Champion sooner rather than later, and it is not hard to see why.
Tonon has been dominant in every one of his five matches under the ONE Championship banner, earning three wins by submission and two TKO stoppages for a 100 percent finishing rate.
Despite recording his last win in May 2019 – a first-round heel hook submission win over Yoshiki Nakahara at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON – Tonon has competed frequently in grappling tournaments and should have few issues on the ground.
On the other hand, his opposite number is perhaps the most well-rounded mixed martial artist in The Home Of Martial Arts – a fact that “The Lion Killer” has acknowledged.
“When I look at him, I don’t see a specialist. I don’t see a Muay Thai expert or a jiu-jitsu expert. I see him having a very good understanding of the skills it takes to be a mixed martial artist. That’s impressive in its own right,” Tonon said.
The compliments follow Nguyen’s 2019 attempt to reinvent himself by linking up with two-division ONE World Champion Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang at Sanford MMA.
Since then, Nguyen has scored two second-round finishes – among them a spectacular flying knee knockout of Narantungalag “Tungaa” Jadambaa in April 2019.
Even though “The Situ-Asian” has shared the Circle with some of the finest athletes, he has yet to face a grappler on the same level of Tonon.
Knowing this will certainly be a confidence booster for the 28-year-old New Jersey native, who can easily turn to his grappling if a stand-up battle against Nguyen proves too dangerous.
“It presents a very interesting challenge. When I look at his fights, he looks beatable to me,” Tonon said.
“This looks like a challenge I could conquer, but it would be a very different kind of challenge than all of my previous fights. He’s got a very good mix of skills.”
With both athletes possessing a flair for highlight-reel finishes, this potential showdown could potentially become a candidate for match of the year.
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