GONO'S PUBLIC TRAINING AT THE GRABAKA
05/16/2005

Akihiro Gono held a public training session at the GRABAKA gym on May 16th before his upcoming bout against Crosley Gracie in PRIDE BUSHIDO 7.

Gono went three rounds of sparring and three rounds of clinch practice, for a total of six rounds, changing sparring partners every round. There's less than one week until his fight but he wasn't holding back today, it was serious training. His sparring with Sanae Kikuta stood out in particular. Gono, who wasn't wearing head gear, would take Kikuta's hooks on the cheek, sometimes crashing into the gathered reporters. Gono also brought some of his sparring partners to the ground when he hit them with knees to the body during clinching practice. He continued this heavy training for nearly 40 minutes.

With less than three weeks from the receipt of the offer to the day of the fight, this will be the shortest preparation time Gono has ever had for a fight. According to Gono, he wasn't training seriously before receiving the offer and has some concerns, "there's only one week until the fight but I still haven't figured out how I'm going to beat Crosley. I'm not sure how I'll be able handle his quick movements if we clinch."

Gono hasn't training ground fighting for a fight for the past 6 months because of his kickboxing match this year in January but he has a game plan and is trying to maximize his chances of winning, "If I get caught (on the ground), it can't be helped. This is like staying up all night and cramming for a test. I will win with my striking, which is better than Crosley's."

Gono's fighting style maybe exactly the opposite of PRIDE's concept of going after a KO or submission without fear. "I was knocked out for the first time ever in March and my head hurt for days after. I was trying to be cool. When I went after him, I got hit. I'm going after points in this fight to get a unanimous decision." Dream Stage Entertainment's Public Relations Officer, Saeki, looked nervous when he heard that. "When I try to knock them down, I get nervous and I can't do it," Gono continued with a suspicious smile, finally putting Saeki at ease. "I'm planning on fighting for a unanimous decision because then my shoulders will be relaxed and I can throw heavy KO punches. My style of "nanimous decision' is exactly what the promoters want."(laughing)

An -83kg PRIDE BUSHIDO tournament is planned to be held this year and hoped are high for Gono. Gono, however, is only thinking about his fight with Crosley in one week, and apparently is keeping his normally big mouth closed, "Winning this fight is the starting point for me. Talking big should be done after you win. There are a lot of things I'd like to say but losses tend to make you shut your mouth. I'll take the brakes off after I beat Crosley and then I'll have plenty to say."