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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu icon and mixed martial arts veteran Tom DeBlass is excited to step inside the Circle for ONE Championship as soon as tense circumstances surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic have eased.
The veteran martial artist says the extended period in quarantine allowed him to take a step back and reevaluate his career, which rekindled his passion for professional competition and led to his signing with the Singapore-based martial arts organization.
“This pandemic has really changed my way of thinking and my thought process. It’s very hard for me to just sit in my home, and I started developing a fire, a drive, and a motivation that I didn’t have before, but I put all my faith in God,” said DeBlass.
“A few days after I had a long prayer, Chatri [Sityodtong] messaged me and asked me what I thought about fighting. If it wasn’t him who messaged me, I wouldn’t have even thought about it. I truly admire what he has done with ONE, and I admire him. I said this must be God’s plan.”
ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong announced that DeBlass would be joining ONE in a Facebook post on Monday, 18 May.
“Please join me in welcoming legendary Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu trailblazer Tom DeBlass (9-2) to ONE Championship! A true champion with Viking warrior blood, he will be competing in mixed martial arts in the heavyweight division, and possibly the light heavyweight division too. With his athleticism and finishing abilities, Tom has the potential to take both divisions by storm, and make a World Title run. Of course, he will have to conquer some monumental challenges in order to do so. He has told me that the world will see the very best version of Tom DeBlass in history,” Sityodtong wrote.
“Not only is Tom a World Champion grappler and a ferocious competitor, but he is also a role model with a heart of gold. I am not sure how it happened, but Tom and I somehow developed a friendship over time through Facebook. We share many of the same life philosophies, and we developed a mutual respect and admiration for each other.”
DeBlass is a multiple-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and submission grappling World Champion, and one of the grappling arts’ most highly-regarded teachers. He is a product of the Renzo Gracie-Ricardo Almeida lineage and has mentored several high-level grappling competitors, including Jen Allen Russell, Kyle Cranmer, and fifth-ranked ONE featherweight contender, Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon.
DeBlass last competed in mixed martial arts nearly seven years ago. His official record stands at 9-2, which includes four victories by knockout and two by submission. Following stoppage wins over Carlos Brooks and Jason Lambert in 2013, DeBlass decided to put his professional career on the shelf to focus on developing his students at Ocean County Jiu Jitsu (OCJJ). Now, he cannot wait to return to action and make the most of his abilities.
When asked why he chose ONE Championship, DeBlass explained his thought process.
“If I did come back to competition, it’s with ONE and no one else. I love what ONE Championship stands for and I’ve been to the shows multiple times. I love the Samurai spirit. I love the Asian culture. Whether ONE is fighting in Asia or the United States, the culture they have represents much more than mixed martial arts,” he said.
“I look at ONE as a way of life and not fighting. I don’t look at ONE as fighting at all. I look at ONE as a chance to showcase my skills once again, have fun and push myself, and hopefully inspire other people.”
DeBlass is expected to join the heavyweight and light heavyweight ranks, which means match-ups with ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon “The Truth” Vera and ONE Light Heavyweight World Champion “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang could be on the cards if he can work his way to the top.
Though much is expected of him, the American grappling sensation is simply focused on taking one bout at a time and looking for victory each time he steps into the Circle.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I don’t want to disrespect anyone that has been in ONE or any titleholders or anybody who has been putting their time in. I’m just going to say my goal is to inspire everyone, fight by fight,” said DeBlass.
“Every fight I have, I look to win. Every competition I have, I look to win. Whatever path God takes me on, whether that be a World Title or defeat, I accept my fate. Let’s see what happens. It’s going to be phenomenal.”