A press conference was held at the Dream Stage Entertainment office in Aoyama, Tokyo on September for the PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix 2006, to be held on November 5th at the Yokohama Arena. Akihiro Gono, who will face Denis Kang in the Semi-Final Round, spoke with reporters after the conference, revealing his confidence in his strategy for Kang and his plan to visit the Maldives with this prize money.

"Mr. Saeki's a sweet guy. I've always thought so. Everyone says so. So his apology seemed more comical than serious. It didn't feel like an apology at all," Akihiro Gono said about BUSHIDO Public Relations Director Shigeru Saeki's apology during the press conference for calling Gono "so-so" before.
Gono has more important things to think about, though. Namely, the dance performances he does during his entrances.
"What should I do? That's what's bothering me the most. I don't have any more ideas. The budget isn't a problem but I've just run out of ideas. (Denis) Kang told me after the First Round, and after the Second Round, that my dancing is great but then to turn around and say that. He's got a lot of nerve," Gono commented, saying that Kang is two-faced. Gono also said that he intended to devote himself to coming up with a new dance idea.

Gono also confidently revealed that he has already developed a game plan for his fight against Kang. "I've done the research and now my trainer and I are already working on a strategy. I'm ready to fight him. I'm able to do exactly what my trainer has told me and I believe I'm ready. My trainer and I joke with each other now, saying Denis Kang, bring it on!' (laughing) It's a lot easier to create a rhythm (in the fight with Kang) because he doesn't keep trying to tackling like Filho. Kang also isn't the type of fighter that just rushes in with power like the last two (Lombard and Mousasi). I think it's definitely going to be a test of our techniques. It's easy to get a rhythm and he's an easier opponent than Paulo," Gono spoke confidently.

The Gono versus Kang match up received the most votes from fans on the PRIDE website. Gono, analyzing this, said, "Our styles are completely different, right? Kang tries to keep his own pace right from the beginning and end the fight as quickly as possibly, but I take my time, working at my own pace and finish the fight at the end. I think the fans wanted to see who would control the pace if we fought."

Gono also had a dream. He wants to visit the Maldives with his prize money. "If I win, I want to go to the Maldives. The sea level is rising and the Maldives will be underwater soon. Apparently, all the rich people in the world are going there now that they've heard that and I want to go, too." Gono continued, saying that, unfortunately he would be going with his trainer, not his girlfriend. "Actually, my trainer asked me to take him if I won, so I will. He'll probably lecture me about boxing there, too. (laughing)"

However, Gono announced that after 31 years and 11 months, he has finally become popular with the girls! "I can't deny that I've become popular with girls. I'm glad I worked so hard on my entrances. Recently I've been getting letters from some cute girls and at the moment, I've taken the lead over Kazuo (Misaki)," Gono bragged.

"A lot of girls leave comments on my blog, too. I'm like an internet idol in the martial arts world. I want to keep this pace and be like Shinjo, now that I'm in my thirties. I want to become a shining star of hope to all the unpopular guys across the country. I will fight for their dreams. Hopefully, I will be a shooting star."

According to Gono, the only way to settle things with Misaki, who has apparently also become very popular with the girls, is to do it in the Final Round. "I want to put the feelings of all the unpopular guys into both of my fists when I beat on him and make myself feel better," Gono said, his reasons for fighting surprising everyone and of course, the laughs continued throughout the interview.