EXCLUSIVE | Garry Tonon not motivated by money ahead of MMA debut

This weekend, BJJ ace Garry Tonon will make his anticipated MMA debut, as he’s set to battle Richard Corminal at ONE:IRON WILL. While “The Lion Killer’s” move to MMA might look like a scheme to make more money in a more mainstream sport, this actually isn’t his main motivator.

“Obviously money’s awesome,” Tonon said on the latest episode of BJ Penn Radio. “Anybody who tries to pretend like money’s not part of the equation, they’re just out of their minds. But I would say it’s not a huge thing for me, and the only reason I say that is not because I’m not interested in making money, but that I could’ve easily made money elsewhere. I was doing just fine continuing professional grappling. It’s not like my career was grinding to a halt or anything. I was doing very well and I was competing all the time and making plenty of money that way, as well as [by] teaching seminars and making money at my school and things. I could’ve just as easily just continued the rest of my life doing that and made plenty of money to make a living. Now of course, mixed martial arts, the upper tier if you make it all the way to the top, there’s much more money than maybe I would’ve made doing that, but I could’ve led a more than comfortable life doing what I was doing beforehand.”

“So I don’t think money was ever really a huge pushing drive for me,” Tonon continued. “You know, I think most of it was the challenging myself, and again like I said, kind of I [knowing] that the end of my athletic career is going to come one day, and I just want to try to make the most out of it. I had the opportunity to compete at the highest level in jiu jitsu and focus on that. Now I’m 26 years old, I still have plenty of years in my prime athleticism left, and I have just enough in my opinion to make it to the top in MMA if all goes well. If I train hard and the cards fall in the right places, I think I could be talking to you five, six years from now, somewhere in the upper echelon of the guys in mixed martial arts.”

Do you think Garry Tonon has what it takes to thrive the perilous world of MMA?

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/23/2018.