In the build up to the Abu Dhabi Combat Club's 2015 Submissions Wrestling World Championship, Bloody Elbow looks back on some of the most interesting moments in the promotions history. In this edition, we look at one of the most talked about matches in recent ADCC history: Kron Gracie's war of attrition with Garry Tonon.
In this edition of the ADCC Flashback I have decided to revisit a moment that is not too far into the past. In fact, this monumental match-up only took place 2 years ago, but it's importance cannot be overestimated. This match acted two fold, firstly, to compound Kron Gracie as a star and secondly, to introduce Garry Tonon to the casual grappling fan.
Beijing, China. Oct 19, 2013. The humid Di Tan Sports Centre was awash with submission grappling fans awaiting their opportunity to watch one of the most hyped grapplers of his generation, Kron Gracie. Most athletes earn recognition their achievements but Kron,the youngest son of martial legend, Rickson Gracie was adorned with infamy from the first time he stepped foot on the mat. Kron's father, Rickson, was the stuff of legends in the martial arts world, an unbeaten mixed martial artist, a phenomenal grappler, and the undisputed champion of the Gracie family.
From the very day Kron was born a sense of anticipation began. Kron featured in his father's now-iconic documentary "Choke" as a carefree child, but one night in 2000, at the age of 12, Kron's life was changed irreparably with the unexpected death of his older brother and idol, Rockson Gracie. In life, Rockson Gracie satiated the fans ravenous appetite for another Gracie jiu-jitsu star, winning 3 Pan-American games by the tender age of 19. But personal issues plagued the submission savant, who died in New York under controversial circumstances.
Overnight, Kron Gracie went from being a carefree child to being the heir apparent to the Gracie jiu-jitsu throne. As Kron Gracie transitioned from childhood into adulthood it became apparent that he too had the potential to be a grappling great. At the age of 20, Kron made his presence known on a global level by defeating Yan Cabral in Portugal to become the European champion, but it wouldn't be until his ADCC participation that he would become a star. Kron Gracie put on a great performance at 2011's ADCC before being submitted by the greatest grappler of all-time, Marcelo Garcia. Little did Kron know that the next time he stepped foot on the famed ADCC mat he would do so to begin his eventual run to a gold medal.
Garry Tonon is everything that Kron Gracie isn't. Tonon emerged from nowhere, he was as anonymous as you and I before he exploded on to the scene at ADCC. In the months leading up to ADCC 2011 I was inundated by messages from Garry Tonon's coach, Tom DeBlass, who spoke of a student with unrivaled intensity, a student spurred on by a loving mother and adoring academy who was in hot pursuit of the most wanted prize in submission grappling. Stepping foot on the mat in the Di Tan Sports Centre, Garry Tonon was in a very similar position to Eddie Bravo was when he pulled off the sport's biggest ever upset. No one believed in Tonon except for his loyal team and his loving mother.
The match began how many had expected, with Kron in control. Kron took Tonon's back with grace and eventually mounted him. It was at this point that Kron locked up a tight armbar, a tap out seemed inevitable, most men would have tapped in agony but Garry Tonon is a different animal. Not only did Tonon survive he came back, got on top of Kron and took his back, for minutes it looked like Kron was defeated but Kron came back from oblivion.
With one minute left, Kron Gracie reversed the situation, got on top of Tonon, took his back but this time Kron wasn't letting Tonon escape. With only seconds to spare Tonon tapped to a tight rear-naked choke. On that night in Beijing, Kron Gracie overcame the most unbelievable amount of adversity to pull of the win and cement his burgeoning legacy en-route to winning gold later that day.
In the 2 years following that epic match, Kron has left the sport of jiu-jitsu to cultivate a cage fighting career for himself. His journey into the world of mixed martial arts began with a fight in Asia on December 23, 2014.
When Kron Gracie left the sport of grappling there was a void, albeit a temporary one. From the ashes of defeat, Garry Tonon rose like a phoenix and took on the mantle that Kron left behind, winning two EBI's, amongst a number of other tournaments.
This weekend, Garry Tonon pursues his own gold medal at the ADCC championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil.