Yuki Kondo and Akihiro Gono Interview at Press Conference

Two additional fights have been announced for the December 31st PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2006, to be held at Saitama Arena. Akihiro Gono will face Yuki Kondo and Josh Barnett will take on Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Both Gono and Kondo were present at the December 18th press conference held at Dream Stage Entertainment's Tokyo office in Aoyama and spoke with reporters after the conference.



Pride Fighting Championships: You were learning boxing last year from the same trainer that Kondo uses, weren't you?
Akihiro Gono: I was but not this year. I haven't sparred with him and I never really considered us to be training together.
Pride: You said that Kondo was the fighter you regard highest.
Gono: He has the strongest heart. Kazuo (Misaki) has a strong heart too but you can tell that just by looking at Misaki. You can tell when he's "on". Kondo's heart is always on fire, though. As an opponent, he's the type of fighter that I like the least. He fights the same, even if you are attacking, so you always feel like he's going to come after you if you attack. His stamina is also unreal. I'm good at long-battles, but he's good at them, too. I think he is a really strong fighter.
Pride: Although you were in the top four of the Welterweight Grand Prix, your positions were reverse when you met Kondo for the first time.
Gono: That's up to other people to decide. To me, I consider Kondo to be above my position. The reason I think he is strong is because most fighters start choosing their opponents after they build their record up a bit, right? Kondo doesn't do that at all He gives everything he's got to win. I always saw him fighting like that in PANCRASE. Everyone was telling me that I was in the top three of the Welterweight Grand Prix and that I'm better. I realized that I was starting to believe that this isn't a good fight for me and that I didn't want to do it. I believe it was God that helped me understand that I shouldn't think about it that way or become that kind of person.
Pride: You've become quite serious.
Gono: I guess that I'm serious because it's Kondo. I've fought many fighters during these five years, like Shogun, but my loss to Kondo was the biggest in my career. So, I'm glad that I was beaten. I want to work harder. I want for both of us to put on a good fight, rather than worrying about winning and losing, and just fight a pure fight.
Pride: Will you put on a performance in your entrance?
Gono: Yes. (laughing) It was a long time before my fight was finalized so I spent that time preparing for my entrance. I haven't really watched Kondo's videos yet but my entrance preparation is basically finished. I've got something amazing arranged. [Professional baseball player] Kiyohara may be working the corner in another event, right? The trick up my sleeve is much better.
Pride: Will it be bigger than the last performance?
Gono: Think of the last time as a special version. This will be more like the 1st or 2nd time. I love baseball too, so I refuse to lose. That's how good my idea is.
Pride: Is it baseball themed?
Gono: .Yes
Yuki Kondo: Yuki Kondo's s Comments
Pride Fighting Championships: You said that Gono is your favorite rival.
Yuki Kondo: Although I won, I wanted to fight him again after our last fight. I don't always think that but I did the instant that our fight was over. I've prepared myself for this. I wasn't lazy and I've prepared myself. I can really feel that now.
Pride: What was your impression from the last time you fought?
Kondo: He threw me with a backdrop. He's very good in the clinch. I still remember that he was very good at that.
Pride: You said that you had unfinished business in PRIDE when you were asking to be on the New Year's Eve card.
Kondo: I wanted to have a win (on New Year's Eve). If possible, I want to fight every New Year's Eve.
Pride: You want to fight, even if there is no television broadcast?
Kondo: That was how I felt in the beginning. (laughing) Now I want to fight because there will be fans there that will have a good time. It doesn't matter if there's a TV broadcast or not. This is the most motivated I have ever been.
Pride: How did you feel when you were watching the Welterweight tournament and how did you feel about not being able to compete in it?
Kondo: It was extremely exciting. I didn't feel anything particular about not being able to compete. Misaki and Gono did well. The foreign fighters put on a lot of good fights and I enjoyed it a lot.
Pride: Do you want to fight Misaki, since he won the Grand Prix?
Kondo: Yes, of course.
Pride: So you have to win this fight, right?
Kondo: Yes. I really want to win this fight.
Pride: Gono's entrance performances are long.
Kondo: I'm looking forward to it. (laughing) I will have the best seat in the house. I will just have to be careful so that my body doesn't cool down (while I'm waiting on Gono).
Pride: What is your impression of Gono in PRIDE?
Kondo: My impression of him hasn't really changed that much. He gives what he is capable of and I think that's why he's highly regarded now.