Tom DeBlass unretires, signs with ONE Championship.

MANILA, Philippines—Grappling legend Tom DeBlass broke his seven-year sabbatical and decided to join ONE Championship after finding inspiration from an odd source.

With the world in a virtual lockdown due to COVID-19, DeBlass had more time on his hands and he was able to step back and re-evaluate his career which eventually rekindled his passion for the sport.

“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.

The 38-year-old then got a call from ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong that would eventually cement his decision to get back to the sport.

“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,” said DeBlass.

A product of the Renzo Gracie-Ricardo Almeida lieage, Deblass has a 9-2 record after his last professional fight against Jason Lambert in Nov. 2013 for Bellator ended in a first round knockout.

DeBlass also became the teacher of Garry Tonon, Jen Allen Russell, and Kyle Cranmer.

Sityodtong said DeBlass will be fighting in the heavyweight or light heavyweight division with the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt potential fighting for a World title.

“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,” said Sityodtong.

A matchup against either ONE World heavyweight champion Brandon Vera or ONE World light heavyweight title holder Aung La N Sang could be on the cards as long as DeBlass fights his way through the rankings.

“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,” DeBlass 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.”


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