Akihiro Gono Speaks about the fight at the Press Conference

A press conference was held at the Dream Stage Entertainment office in Aoyama, Tokyo on December 18th to announce two additional cards for PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2006, the New Year's Eve event to be held at Saitama Super Arena. Two of the announced fighters, Akihiro Gono and Yuki Kondo, were also present at the conference.

"There are just 10 days left until New Year's Eve and, today, we are announcing two special matches," Shigeru Saeki announced matches between Akihiro Gono and Yuki Kondo, and Josh Barnett and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. These two matches are certainly worthy of being called "special matches."

First, Shigeru spoke about the Gono/Kondo bout, "I wanted Kondo to compete in the Welterweight tournament but the damage he took in his fight against Phil Baroni would have made that difficult. So, in the end, we decided to have him fight in a Japanese VS Japanese bout on New Year's Eve. Both fighters fought each other five years ago in PANCRASE. Gono lost by TKO but since then, he's worked his way up to the best four in the PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix tournament and has become stronger than anyone could have imagined five years ago. His dancing has become a little weird, though.

Kondo hasn't been in good health this year but he wanted to fight once more on New Year's Eve. Honestly, when I considered the background story between these two fighters, I realized that this fight carries a lot of risk for both of them. I believe that Kondo is one of the best Welterweight fighters in Japan. He just had a run of bad luck this year. I also think it was big of Gono to accept the match. Along with Barnett and Nogueira's bout, this will be a difficult battle for both fighters."

Continuing, Yuki Kondo commented with his usual expression-less expression, "I'm always very aware of the New Year's Eve event and I wanted to compete. I'm extremely happy that I can fight this year, too. I have been given an opportunity, so I will do my best. I consider Gono to be my biggest rival, and I want to give my all to make this the best fight of the night."



After hearing Kondo's comments, Gono responded, "I really don't feel like I have to pay him back for what happened five years ago. However, I am glad that I can fight Yuki Kondo. I'm also very happy to hear Kondo call me his biggest rival. After I lost five years ago, the fans and everyone else said that (Sanae) Kikuta is Kondo's biggest rival and to be honest, I was disappointed. So, for him to say that makes me very happy. We, as two Japanese fighters, will put on the best fight of New Year's Eve."

Gono had previously commented that he wanted to rematch Kondo after getting much stronger. While Gono declared that he would win, the tone was a little softer than usual, "There's always a chance of winning, no matter who you are fighting. It' s just a matter of whether it's great or small. I always believe that I have a chance to win. Now I have to quickly improve my chances of winning, but it is definitely possible for me to win."

"I enjoy his fights, including the entrances. His fights are always good," Kondo evaluated Gono. When Shigeru commented that Gono knows Kondo's true strength better than anyone, Gono replied, "There are a lot of ways to evaluate people but in my mind, Kondo's value has never dropped. Not once. Kondo is always a fighter worth fighting."

"He went straight to the top after beating me by TKO," Gono continued with a serious face, aware of Kondo's abilities. "He's been at bat four times this year and unfortunately was unable to get a hit three of those times. He may hit a homerun this time, though. To me, Kondo is one of the strongest fighters around and I am definitely not looking past him."