(James Goyder is the owner/editor of AsianMMA.com)
Garry Tonon went the distance for the first time in his MMA career at ONE: Big Bang. The BJJ black belt dominated the first two rounds, but ran out of steam in the final five minutes as Koyomi Matsushima came on strongly at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
A featherweight title shot was potentially on the line for the winner. Matsushima has already challenged unsuccessfully for that title once, while Tonon is slowly but surely making his way to the top of the rankings.
The American jumped guard early in the opening round and looked for a standing guillotine, but Matsushima slipped out. Tonon briefly found himself on the bottom after an unsuccessful takedown attempt, but a split second later he had his opponent’s back and was working for a rear-naked choke.
With the better part of four minutes remaining in the round, it was a bad spot for Matsushima, as Tonon locked in a body triangle. But the Japanese fighter somehow survived, repeatedly fighting off the arms of his opponent, who was looking to slip a forearm under the chin and lock in the choke.
The second stanza brought more of the same for Matsushima. Tonon timed an inside leg kick, shot for a takedown, and took the striking specialist’s back with over three minutes remaining in the round.
This time not only did Matsushima survive, but with seconds remaining in the round, he reversed position and landed a knee to the head of Tonon. The round finished with both men standing and the Japanese fighter landing a right hand that might have been fractionally late.
While Matsushima’s submission defense was clearly on point, he had spent the better part of eight minutes fending off submission attempts. It gave him a mountain to climb on the scorecards with five minutes remaining in the fight.
Tonon looked tired and for once he was unable to get the fight to the ground. But he remained an elusive target and at the end of the round Matsushima had nothing to show for the striking exchanges other than a few solid kicks to the body and legs.
Having finished all five of his previous opponents, Tonon might have been disappointed to go the distance. But the outcome was never in doubt and he improved to 6-0, moving within touching distance of a featherweight title shot while Matsushima dropped to 12-5.
There was also a big win for Bokang Masunyane (7-0), who stopped Rene Catalan (6-4-0-1) with a highlight-reel head kick in the opening round of their strawweight fight. Meanwhile, Ritu Phogat improved to 4-0 after stopping Jomary Torres 4-5-0-1 in the opening round of their atomweight affair.
ONE: Big Bang results
- Kickboxing: Marat Grigorian defeats Ivan Kondratev via knockout at 1:52 of round 2
- Garry Tonon defeats Koyomi Matsushima via unanimous decision
- Kickboxing: Murat Aygun defeats Anderson Silva via unanimous decision
- Kickboxing: Andy Souwer defeats Zhang Chunyu via unanimous decision
- Kickboxing: Bokang Masunyane defeats Rene Catalan via knockout at 0:37 of round one
- Jihin Radzuan defeats Bi Nguyen via unanimous decision
- Ritu Phogat defeats Jomary Torres via TKO at 3:55 of round one