Thanh Le Says Garry Tonon Needs ‘One or Two’ More Fights to Earn Title Shot
Newly crowned and reigning ONE Featherweight World Champion Thanh Le is back home in New Orleans, Louisiana, and is currently recovering from a pesky hand injury that has bothered him since his title-winning performance over Martin Nguyen last October.
The 35-year-old Vietnamese-American has had three surgeries on the hand in question so far, but appears to now be back in training while the hand heals. He is lightly preparing for a potential world title defense later this year, against an opponent yet to be named.
One potential opponent is #3-ranked featherweight, submission grappling superstar Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon, who has remained undefeated at 6-0 since making the transition to mixed martial arts in 2018.
While Tonon believes he has done enough to warrant a shot at the featherweight belt, Le feels otherwise and thinks “The Lion Killer” needs a few more notable wins on his resume.
“Garry is a super dangerous grappler, obviously. [He is] relatively new to the rankings. He had a good match with [Koyomi] Matsushima that went the distance, and I think he’ll earn a title shot soon,” Le told ONE Championship in a recent interview.
Tonon has two standout performances in the division. He submitted Yoshiki Nakahara with a nasty heel hook in the first round of a May 2019 bout, and came back in late 2020 to defeat highly ranked former ONE World Title challenger Koyomi Matsushima by decision.
However, Le isn’t convinced Tonon is ready to challenge for the title just yet.
“Maybe one or two more fights, and I think he’ll definitely be on the hit list,” Le said.
In addition to Tonon, possibilities for Le when he returns to the Circle include matchups with top-ranked featherweights Koyomi Matsushima and Kim Jae Woong, a rematch with former titleholder Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen, and a cross-division challenge against ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian “The Warrior” Lee.
However, Le admits that the Tonon bout does present some great angles. The featherweight king thinks it’s an interesting clash of styles, and offers fans the classic striker versus grappler matchup.
“Garry’s comfortable on the feet, he’s getting better with this striking, you’ll see that he has some confidence in the way he moves his head and the way he closes the distance,” Le said.
“I don’t think if he stands with me for 10 seconds, he goes straight to sleep. And I don’t think if I grapple with him for 10 seconds, I go straight to getting heel hooked or submitted.
“I think it’s an interesting matchup because we’re both competent in the other art, but we’re so dominant and such a specialist in our specific realms that it presents, you know, a problem for the other person.”
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