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Ever since we found out that Garry Tonon would be facing Rousimar Palhares at Polaris Pro 3 on April 2nd, we’ve been salivating with excitement. Not only did the prospect of this epic match break the internet, it caused much debate within the jiu jitsu community as to who will come away victorious. Garry Tonon is on an unrivalled win streak as a submission grappler, defeating all comers and elevating his status as one of the best fighters out there. However, many see his opponent, Palhares, as the most dangerous (and scary) jiu jitsu fighter ever, who will go into this bout with a huge weight advantage. We caught up with Garry to ask why he personally pushed to make this match happen.

Garry, we believe you specifically asked to face Rousimar Palhares, so what was it that made you want this match so much?

Well, I was asking John if he thought it would be a good idea to compete against Palhares, and he pretty much said, 'Once you’ve looked at the risks and rewards you will get a clearer idea of whether or not it is something you’d want to do’.

I’ve been doing lots of work on my submission grappling and specifically the leg lock game. Right now I’m on a win streak, and I’ve defeated Marcin Held and Masakazu Imanari at Polaris, with these guys close to me in my weight class. Both Held and Imanari are considered experts at leg locks, and they’ve used them successfully in MMA, tapping our many people. Now I feel like the last remaining question is Palhares.

I believe that Palhares is seen as the most dangerous leg locker or all time, so for me to face him offers an opportunity to solidify my position as one of the best and most knowledgeable leg lock guys.

Honestly, this isn’t just for me, this is to bring recognition to myself, Eddie Cummings, John Danaher and the entire Renzo Gracie team. With the effort that’s being put in, I feel it would be a waste not to test myself against the absolute best. I believe I owe it to John Danaher to show just how powerful the stuff he teaches us really is.

Do you think the considerable weight discrepancy will be an issue?

Of course that’s one of the risks when competing against anyone who is multiple weight classes above you, which Palhares clearly is. I think he’s asked to weigh-in at 180lbs the day before, so there’s a going to be around a 40lb difference if not more.

His strength and size are clearly going to be an advantage, so for me to say that won’t play a part in the match would be silly. People who say ‘it’s only about technique’ are crazy – go and try to have a grappling match with a silverback gorilla and see how you get on. That said, Palhares is a man that bleeds the same blood I do, and who’s to say that his preparation and training is going to be better than mine?  I truly believe in myself, in my coaching and all the things I’ve put in place to try and defeat him. We’ll see who’s the best man on the day.

Do you think people are unduly scared of Palhares?

Absolutely not. He is easily, in my eyes, the most dangerous submission grappler of all time. Most of the really technical athletes that succeed in our sport specialise in choke holds, while Palhares specialises in submissions that will physically break you. Not only does he specialise in the submissions that can break you, such as armbars and leg locks, he WILL break you if you don’t tap – and there’s a chance he’ll break you even if you do tap. So yeah, walking into a match with Palhares with no fear is impossible. I walk in knowing the risks and potential possibilities and I’m at a high risk of being injured. I have a lot of fear around the outcome of this fight, but I also believe in everything that I have done to prepare for it.

Do you feel you and your team deserve more credit as perhaps the best leg lock experts out there?   

Well Eddie and myself have certainly defeated many people who are considered amongst the best leg lock players in the world. I don’t really see what else we could do within our weight categories, so really the only guys that remain out there to test against are Rousimar Palhares and Dean Lister. I think in beating the heavier guys it will solidify the fact that our game can be dangerous and we can finish against anyone. I’m happy to work for people’s respect, but I don’t really care if we are getting attention or not. I do this for me, and not to heighten other people’s opinion or me.

For Polaris Pro 3 ticket information visit: http://lighthousepoole.co.uk/3274/+/3543

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February 17, 2016 — Jiu Jitsu Style