Garry Tonon (L) (ONE Championship)

Garry Tonon and Martin Nguyen to Face Off in Title Eliminator at ONE 165

When ONE Championship returns to Tokyo, Japan, its featherweight MMA division will become clearer. 

Top-ranked contender Garry Tonon will meet third-ranked contender and former two-division titleholder Martin Nguyen at ONE 165, the promotion announced on Tuesday. 

When Tonon debuted in 2017, Nguyen was the featherweight MMA king. However, the emergence of Thanh Le changed the landscape in the division, as he knocked off “The Situ-Asian” and successfully defended the gold against Tonon. 


Le subsequently lost the coveted strap to Tang Kai in Aug. 2022, but he gained the interim title against Ilya Freymanov this past October. 

A unification match between Le and Kai is rumored for 2024, and Tonon and Nguyen are seeking to get back into a prime position to challenge for the gold once that goes down. Their meeting in Tokyo would unquestionably elevate the winner into that position. 

After losing the featherweight MMA crown, Nguyen went through a mixed bag of results. But his latest win over Leonardo Casotti this past February showed he has plenty left in the tank. 

Meanwhile, Tonon has put together back-to-back wins over Johnny Nunez and Shamil Gasanov over the last year to establish himself right behind the champions. 

The matchup will be an exciting clash of styles between Tonon’s BJJ brilliance and Nguyen’s explosive power. As a possible title eliminator, the featherweight battle is a perfect addition to what is becoming one of the new year’s premium events. 

It joins the lightweight MMA war between Sage Northcutt and Shinya Aoki and the flyweight kickboxing super-fight between Rodtang Jitmuangnon and Takeru Segawa on the loaded lineup at ONE 165. 

ONE 165: Rodtang vs. Takeru airs live from Ariake Arena in Tokyo on Sunday, Jan. 28.