Shamil Gasanov has been calling his shot since his arrival in ONE Championship. On Friday, Jul. 14, the Russian star will have his chance to make a massive statement against second-ranked featherweight contender Garry Tonon at ONE Fight Night 12.
Gasanov wants to show the world he is the best grappler in the division, and, to do so, he will need to defeat Tonon. He knows that won’t be an easy task and remains aware of the dangers of trying to out-gun the BJJ legend.
“Tonon should not be underestimated. Both of us are skilled grapplers, and we pose a threat until the final second of the fight. Maintaining focus is crucial as a single mistake can cost [someone] the victory. He is particularly dangerous with his leglocks,” Gasanov told ONE.
“The Cobra” is confident in his own skills, though, and a piece of that confidence comes from his MMA experience.
He is well-versed in MMA grappling, and he touts his all-around ground game as one that can match up with Tonon’s if the action hits the canvas.
“I have more experience in MMA than Garry. I’ve also competed in BJJ, grappling, and freestyle wrestling, so I believe we have an equal chance on the ground,” Gasanov said.
In preparation for his biggest test to date, the undefeated star is preparing to stuff Tonon’s fabled leglocks.
But that doesn’t mean he’ll be entering their contest in a defensive mindset.
“I do a lot of grappling with black belts and leglock specialists. I also have extensive wrestling sessions with freestyle wrestlers. I never approach a fight with just a defensive strategy. I’ll be launching my attacks from the opening seconds of our bout,” Gasanov stated pointedly.
In his path to the top, Gasanov has always envisioned a bout against Tonon.
Not only does his want to square off against the American star come from a point of proving his submission skills, but it is fueled by a keen interest in proving himself opposite the most dangerous contenders in ONE’s stacked featherweight division.
“I have been closely following my division in ONE for a long time, even when I was competing in another league. Fighting Tonon has been a dream of mine for a while. I have watched his fights in ADCC, and I consider him the most dangerous opponent in my division. I never look for shortcuts in my career, so I am fully prepared to face Garry. If I defeat Garry Tonon, I am confident that a title shot will be in my near future,” Gasanov said.
In Bangkok, the Russian gets his chance to knock off a top opponent and move into a position to possibly challenge for gold.
If it comes to fruition, Gasanov will be able to fulfill a promise he made to his mother when he began his MMA journey.
“My ultimate goal is to capture the ONE belt, as I have promised it to my mom. I also aim to successfully defend the title, God willing. Additionally, I have a strong desire to compete in submission grappling,” he said.
ONE Fight Night 12 airs live on Prime Video on Friday, Jul. 14, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. The event will be free for all Amazon Prime members in the U.S. and Canada.
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