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"They're really implementing it and making it a big part of [ONE]" - Garry Tonon on the growth of ONE Championship's grappling ranks

Garry Tonon is grateful that ONE Championship has been pushing submission grappling as hard as ever into the mainstream audience. [Photo ONE Championship]
Garry Tonon is grateful that ONE Championship has been pushing submission grappling as hard as ever into the mainstream audience. [Photo ONE Championship]
Vince Richards

Garry Tonon was one of the pioneers of ONE Championship’s submission grappling scene, having competed in the promotion’s first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu match.

What Tonon and Shinya Aoki started has turned into a full-blown grappling revolution, with ONE Championship fully embracing the submission arts as of late.

In an interview with The Jakarta Post, Tonon said he’s happy with how submission grappling has exponentially grown under ONE Championship and how the promotion continues to push BJJ.

Garry Tonon said:

“It's been years since that match, but that's how I kind of got my foot in the door. I'm glad that now they're really implementing it and making it a big part of [ONE]. It's raising the level of our sport. Man, it's kind of been my life story, as far as influencing professional grappling, and the opportunities everybody has.”

Tonon and Aoki were the first to compete in a pure submission match in ONE Championship. The two faced each other in May 2017 with Tonon taking the victory.

Since that match, ONE Championship has had four more submission grappling matches with two of those bouts happening at the promotion’s 10th anniversary show, ONE X.

Tonon, a five-time Eddie Bravo Invitational champion, has certainly helped develop the sport not just in the grappling scene but also in the mainstream.

The 30-year-old, however, isn’t convinced that he’ll be remembered for what he’s done for the sport.

“I don't know if 10 years from now anybody's going to realize how instrumental of a part I played in putting professional grappling on the mat. I'm sure they'll watch my matches. [But] the next guy that goes to train or compete, it's probably very unlikely that they're going to realize that the professional landscape of the sport is where it is because of specific athletes.”

Garry Tonon stepping into his second submission grappling match at ONE Championship

From starting the trend, to continuing its development, Tonon will compete in his second submission grappling match under ONE Championship.

Tonon will welcome BJJ protege Tye Ruotolo into the promotion when the two lock horns at ONE 157: Petchmorakot vs. Vienot.

It’s a classic case of veteran versus upstart, with Tonon being 11 years the elder of Ruotolo.

Ruotolo, however, isn’t all youth. The 19-year-old owns a WNO title and was the youngest person to reach an ADCC final in 2019 when he was just 16-years-old.


Edited by Jason Birkelbach

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