Akihiro Gono answered reporters' questions following an April 7th press conference at the Dream Stage Entertainment announcing the June 4th PRIDE BUSHIDO 100 and the PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix 2006 Opening Round. During the press conference, Gono didn't speak much about his request to fight Makoto Takimoto but in the post-conference questioning, he gave reporters an insight into his intentions.

When Takimoto fought in PRIDE for the first time on New Year's Eve (2004), he put on a stupid fight and then said he had underestimated MMA. I wanted to become a mixed martial artist so I came over from baseball and have worked hard for a long time. That just rubbed me the wrong way. The value of an Olympic gold medal and the All-Japan Heavyweight Kickboxing championship title are a million times different (laughing) and I thought that he and I wouldn't have any common ground. The stuff he says at the press conference is boring. He is the complete opposite of me, in every way. I want to fight strong opponents and I will fight anyone. Emotionally speaking though, the person that I want to fight is Takimoto.




There were 4 Japanese fighters last year but I couldn't stick my chest out, be proud and say that the tournament was really deciding the best in the world. This time, though, all the opponents are tough and can't even be compared to last year's tournament. That's got me motivated. I think this is a tournament with real danger.

This is the most motivated I have ever been in my martial arts career. I think that it was only after many hard years that I made it here and I'm excited about what lies in the future. (Asked if winning the tournament would be MMA's gold medal) I suppose it's worth that much. I think the value of winning the tournament is much greater than just the fight money and I really want to win. I want to leave a better record than I did last year.