Garry Tonon Declares MMA Debut Date, Says It Could Come vs. Shinya Aoki

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Grappling superstar Garry Tonon just never stops. 

The no-gi specialist has a May 26 tangle with legendary grappler Shinya Aoki set for ONE: Dynasty of Heroes, and he's already planning his next venture after that. Tonon told FloCombat backstage at Submission Underground 4 (SUG 4) he's nearing in on his MMA debut--and he might just know the opponent, too. 

"I have a pretty good feeling that if I submit him [Aoki], he's probably going to try to ask for an MMA fight, and that would be an interesting lead-in for my mixed martial arts career," Tonon said. "Within six months to a year, you're going to see me fight for sure. After this ADCC, I'm going to really switch gears. I've been doing MMA as a side project, but I think I'm going to really switch gears and make jiu-jitsu more my side projects, [and] MMA my full career and pursuit." 

Submitting Aoki is no easy task for anyone, but Tonon believes he'll be able to control the action and leave Singapore with a victory. 

"Overall, I think I'll be able to dominate," Tonon said. "Over time, he's just not going to be used to dealing with an elite-level grappler, but we'll see how it goes. He's got other good people in his corner and other people that are showing him a lot of attacks and defenses. [Masakazu] Imanari's over there. I've defeated him, but still, he knows what to look out for, so I'm sure he's going to have a real tough training camp leading up to this match." 

Despite his confidence, Tonon admits that Aoki poses some problems, largely because of his unique and unorthodox approach to the game. 

"This guy is a master of flying submissions as well as submissions on the ground," Tonon said. "He's got a really interesting style, something that not a lot of people do. Very few people know how to mix standing grappling with floor grappling. Most people, it's just a double leg or a single leg, you put the guy to the floor, then you use your jiu-jitsu.

"This guy's dangerous from the feet, he's dangerous on the floor, he's dangerous everywhere in between, and I like to believe the same is true about me. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out."

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Should Tonon's vision materialize, he makes it clear that, while MMA will become his focus, he won't leave the world of competitive submission grappling. Any promotion that wants his services inside the cage will have to live with that fact.  

"My first love is jiu-jitsu and always will be," Tonon said. "Any organization that I work with, it'll be written into the contract that I'm still able to do submission grappling events. Who knows, maybe there's a timeline I'll have to abide by, but there's no way somebody's going to tell me, 'Yeah, you're just going to do MMA for us. You won't do any jiu-jitsu.' That's not happening." 

Particularly, Tonon sounds ready to compete once again at Submission Underground. While he was not fighting Sunday evening at SUG 4, several competitors called him out on the mic, adding some fuel to his already-burning fire to compete. Tonon has no issues with these call-outs, and he's ready to take them on. 

"Apparently I got called out by like three different people," Tonon said. "I don't know. I guess I must be doing something right--or wrong. But yeah, man. I guess at the next one, I'll just fight all three of them back-to-back. That's fine. It'll just be me vs. the world."

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