After starting out his martial arts career in traditional styles such as Taekwondo in his native Uruguay, lightweight Gaston “Tonga” Reyno has adapted quickly to MMA and become one of the more intriguing prospects in the sport.
Considering he didn’t have much exposure to MMA until a couple of years ago, his current situation is even more surprising.
“Brian Davidson invited me to come out here (to K2L Grindhouse) and train with some of the guys,” said Reyno, looking back. “I met James Krause and he became my brother and he told me if I’m going to set goals for my life, I should set them in MMA, and that I should be an MMA fighter.
“After my first few weeks here, I had my first (amateur) fight and got a KO in 40 seconds. So I decided to move to this area and have had five (amateur) fights already with five KO’s and I’m very excited with this MMA life.”
Though he excelled in his original disciplines, Reyno admitted to MMAWeekly.com that making the transition to MMA wasn’t an easy one.
“For me it was difficult,” he said. “I have a Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai background with Taekwondo, and I didn’t respect that much the wrestling until I came here and everybody was taking me down and holding me there.
“I found wrestling difficult at first, but I am obsessed with this – I don’t have family here, I don’t go out, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke – the only thing I do is martial arts. So I’ve focused on wrestling, gone to wrestling tournaments, talk about wrestling, strategized wrestling until I got it and now I feel like an MMA guy now.”
After a successful start in the amateur ranks, Reyno is set to make his pro MMA debut at Titan FC 28 on May 16 in Newkirk, Okla., against David Nelson (1-2).
“I don’t look at my opponent too much,” said Reyno. “I have a great team, so they take care of that and help me with my game plan. Aside from that, this is a big opportunity. Titan FC is a great organization, so I will go to put on a great show.
“I want to strike, to kick (Nelson’s) head, and KO him. I want to put on a great show.”
Looking ahead, Reyno is scheduled to fight again in MMA in July and then compete in the Taekwondo World Championships. And while moving his career forward is important, more so closer to Renyo’s heart is making an example for other fighters in his native Uruguay.
“My dream is to be the pride of my family, the pride of my country, and be an example for guys out there,” he said. “I didn’t have an example in Uruguay. The only examples they have in Uruguay is soccer players. If you want to do martial arts, you better be a taxi driver or something and also do martial arts.
“I live for martial arts – that’s what I do – and I want to be an example for other guys in Uruguay that it’s something they can do to. That’s my drive.”