Akihiro Gono's Interview

Akihiro Gono (GRABAKA) has become the face of BUSHIDO after he transformed into "DZ GOZMA" at the start of the Welterweight Grand Prix in June. Although he would have likely been written off had he lost after that performance, Gono was able to push ahead in the tournament and prove that he is also a strong fighter. Gono's name is one of several fighters who plan to fight on New Year's Eve. Gono sat down with Pride Fighting Championships to speak about the hidden side of the Welterweight Grand Prix.




Pride Fighting Championships: It's been some time since your fight on November 5th.
Akihiro Gono: That's all in the past to me so don't expect any great comments today. Today is November 24th. There's one month left until New Year's Eve and that's what I'm focusing on now.
Pride: I've been reading your blog*. You were pretty depressed after the fight, weren't you?

Akihiro Gono's Blog:http://blog.livedoor.jp/gono/

Gono: Not so much depressed as confused. I had almost no damage after the fight. Probably the least amount of damage I've ever had after a fight. Watching those two guys fight in the Championship Round completely battered, I felt confused. I was in the best shape of everyone. So, I just felt a little down.
Pride: Why do you think your fight with Denis Kang turned out that way?
Gono: Because he did exactly the same thing I did. I expected him to come out swinging as always and planned for that, but he never came at me. He was waiting on me and I was waiting on him.
Pride: You were able to get the real DJ OZMA to help with your entrance. That will probably go down as one of the fanciest entrances in MMA history.
Gono: I was really grateful for his help. Actually, we had planned to do that "na na na" dance in the ring together if I won but unfortunately we weren't able to. I felt really sorry for everyone, including the back dancers, who put so much time into the entrance despite being very busy. That's my biggest regret. Oh yeah, one of the female dancers was next to me since the rehearsals and she smelled very, very good. I mean really nice It was like she was in a different world than me. I couldn't even get a look at her face. After that I bought one of OZMA's albums that came with a DVD. When I watched that DVD, right at the end, there was a girl wearing a bathing suit. I think that was the girl that was beside me in the entrance! When I saw the DVD, I knew I should have gotten a better look at her face. If I had seen her face, I'd know for sure if she and the bathing suit girl are actually the same person. If it had been, I think my interest in her would have gone in a completely different direction. That smell turned me into a little boy. I was disappointed in myself for being too much of a chicken to get a look at her face.
Pride: So you were more shocked over her than your loss? (laughing)
Gono: I'd like to meet those girls again, so I will do my best to get OZMA to come back. Next time I will work harder to sneak a peek at her face without getting caught.
Pride: Well, you scored 100 points for your entrance.
Gono: Yeah, they really did a lot more for me so it was at least 100 points, if not more.
Pride: Were there any mistakes?
Gono: I made a mistake but my dancing is so crazy that no one noticed. I'm satisfied. We were able to write a brilliant new page in the history of MMA.
Pride: Your entrance was very complicated. The rehearsals must have been tough.
Gono: Rehearsals took a little more than an hour. We went to the venue around noon and I came back to the changing room around 1:30 after rehearsals finished. We worked on it a lot. We were at the venue and moving around before anyone else. Kazuo (Misaki) and Denis (Kang) both fought two matches and both of Denis' matches went the distance so he fought for 30 minutes but I was in rehearsals alone for longer than that! Even though I worked longer than everyone else, my fight money was the smallest. I wonder if that's a fair price for all that work I put in.
Pride: Your situation completely changed in the June Welterweight Grand Prix Opening Round and you suddenly gained a lot of fame. It must seem like a dream.
Gono: It does, really. I didn't bloom until I passed 30. That's not very cool, is it? It's fun, though. I was embarrassed in the beginning but once I got out there, it was fun. What if I hadn't done that? I think I'm better off now that I did it. I think everyone should bloom. If there's anyone that wants to do something wild but is hesitating because they're worried that it won't look cool, I'm behind you. You should do it. You should bloom!
Pride: I was surprised that you had an outfielder from Nippon Ham (Japanese professional baseball team) in your corner working on a strategy during the break.
Gono: That was part of my 15 minutes of fame. Well, about 16.5 minutes, including the break. When I went back to my corner after the 1st round was over, I had already decided to do that no matter how much damage I might take. I think I'm going to do that every time from now one. I will make sure that I survive the 1st round just so I can do that.
Pride: Apparently you had some shorts other than the ones that you wore against Denis Kang.
Gono: Those will never see the light of day. I'll probably throw them away one of these days.
Pride: That's a waste. Why don't you put them up for auction?
Gono: That's a great idea! (laughing) Not very cool, though. If it'll make money, it's better to do it even if it isn't cool.
Pride: I think they'd be popular. By the way, what was written on the 2nd pair of shorts?
Gono: That's a secret. When I showed Kazuo the shorts I would wear if we were going to fight, he told me that if he saw them during the fight, he would be terrified. It's not like I have the name of a girl that Kazuo took home from a bar embroidered on my shorts, so I don't mind if they go up for auction! (laughing) I wanted to put all my power into those letters and stab Kazuo in the heart but unfortunately, all I ended up doing was spending too much on my wardrobe! I can't get any of that back now.[To be continued]