Thanh Le has been preparing his mind, body and soul to face Garry Tonon for the past year or so.
The two have been on a collision course since Le lifted ONE Championship’s 155-pound world title from former world champion Martin Nguyen in October 2020. The Louisiana native scored a scintillating knockout victory to capture the world title.
Meanwhile, grappling world champion Tonon made a high-profile transition from Brazilian jiu-jitsu to MMA in 2018 and has put together six straight victories since, including five finishes. His body of work was enough to earn him a shot at the belt.
Le and Tonon meet in the main event of ONE: Lights Out, which will be broadcast live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday, March 11.
Although this fight has the makings of a classic striker versus grappler matchup, Le says the fight may end up being more of a showcase of their well-rounded skill sets.
In a recent interview with the South China Morning Post, Thanh Le said:
“With this new mentality where, obviously, I spent a lot of time grappling, he spends a lot of time striking, it's not just that one-sided affair. You're going to have a little mix. And it's not just going to be well, if we strike I win. And if we grapple he wins. It's not that black and white. And I think that is what really makes it interesting for the fans.”
Obviously, their strengths won’t change. Le will always fall back on his taekwondo to carry him to victory, while Tonon will take advantage of any opening on the mat that presents itself.
However, even if they get stuck in each other’s wheelhouse, Le believes no one man will be at a clear disadvantage.
“Obviously, Garry has an advantage in the grappling department, I have an advantage in the striking department. But he's not a slouch on the feet. And I'm not a slouch on the ground. So it will be interesting to see the old school striker versus grappler, style versus style matchup.”
Catch the full interview below:
Thanh Le has worked extensively on his grappling
By training with UFC fighter and close friend Ryan Hall, Thanh Le has made sure to upgrade his grappling skills wherever necessary.
It’s come to the point where Le is working more on his grappling than on his striking, which he says has given him the confidence to declare victory wherever the action ends up.
“Running through the same stuff, I'm always trying to develop my grappling. I pretty much grapple more than I strike consistently for the past good clump of years. It worked out pleasantly to say the least. And I'm really excited for this. I'm very confident in this matchup, no matter where the fight goes.”
After over a year-long wait, Thanh Le and Garry Tonon finally meet in the Circle. Who will leave the stadium with the ONE featherweight world title belt draped over his shoulders? We'll find out on March 11.