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Rahul K Raju speaks about his upcoming fight against Garry Tonon

687   //    12 Jul 2018, 03:11 IST

The Kerala Krusher Rahul K Raju (middle)

It is great news for Indian MMA fans as 'The Kerala Krusher' Rahul Raju is scheduled to fight the Brazilian Jiujitsu phenom Garry ‘The Lion Killer’ Tonon. The fight is scheduled to take place at Manila, Philippines during the ONE: Reign of the Kings event on July 27th.

The Kerala born Raju is a well-rounded fighter who has a good ground game to back up his striking. A fight with Tonon is a huge opportunity for Raju to prove himself and a win can take him to great heights. But Tonon has one of the best ground games in the fight business and is picking up striking real fast.

The Kerala Krusher has some real knockout power which can change the course of the game at any given point which makes it a tuff challenge for Tonon as there is a real possibility of Tonon losing if the bout remains on the feet.

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Rahul Raju vs Shannon Wiratchai

It going to be an educational experience for the fight fans to watch a confident Tonon who just had his first MMA victory against Richard Corminal, face Raju, who is coming out of an upset knockout defeat against Shannon Wiratchai in his last bout in ONE FC.

The Kerala Krusher is super motivated and possesses the sheer will required to face any challenges from any elite fighter making this fight more exciting. We managed to steal some of his precious time during his camp to find answers to a few questions before his upcoming fight against Tonon.

Here are a few excerpts from the interview:

This is a fight taking place at short notice against arguably one of the biggest prospects in the game today, have you figured out a game plan to tame The Lion Killer's superior Jiujitsu?

Raju: I have a solid game plan to neutralize his takedown attempts - make the fight in the feet and get the knock out slowly. And I am working hard on my wrestling too.

Is there any change in camp for this fight or is it still going on at Juggernaut Fight Club? And what special preparation has been taken to tackle Tonon's heel hook game?

Raju: It will be always in Juggernaut Fight Club. Yes, I am working hard on how to fight out from heel hooks. Very excited on that part though.

Tonon was so determined to finish his opponent on foot in his last fight against Richard Corminal, and he succeeded in doing it. He has a great gas tank and put a lot of pressure on his opponent. How do you plan to face him if he uses the same strategy against you?

Raju: I think he will use the same strategy until his face gets wrecked by my fist. Then he will go back to his bread and butter ground game. But we will see. I think I can stop him if I can make him stand for a while by stopping his takedowns. Anyway, I will not rush. I am trusting my game plan for that.

It's been a few months since your upset defeat against Shanon Wiratchai. Things didn't go according to plan for you on that day. What changed in the Kerala Krusher's training after that bout?

Raju: It has been 3 months since the Shannon fight. I just rushed a bit and made some errors and he capitalized on that. It will never happen again in my career. Striking wise I have one of the best teams in Singapore with me.

This is one of the highest levels of MMA an Indian has ever taken part in. How does it feel to represent a billion people at this elite level? Does it help or is it a big weight on the fighter's shoulder?

Raju: It motivates me. I am honoured to represent the Indian flag on such a huge stage. And the hard work I am putting will never let me down. I am trusting in that.

What is your contract with ONE FC? The promotion is planning to enter Indian market soon, can we see the Kerala Krusher going for war on home soil?

Raju: Give me a little more time and I will be there at the top. I have a 6-fight contract with ONE and will be there on Indian soil for sure.

It was great to have a chat with the Kerala Krusher who is one of the biggest names in MMA representing India. We have a lot of respect for the fighting pride of Kerala and wish him best of luck for his fight against Garry Tonon on 27th July.

Watch 'Garry Tonon vs Rahul Raju' at ONE: Reign of the Kings event on July 27th in Manila, live on ONE FC's Twitter handle @ONEChampionship.

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Anand is a freelance journalist, specializing in Mixed Martial Arts with Sportskeeda. Anand is also an Amateur Fighter and a Kalaripayattu Practitioner.
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