Pre-PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2006 Interview with Akihiro Gono and Yuki Kondo

Pre-PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2006 Interview with Akihiro Gono and Yuki Kondo




Akihiro Gono: Is everyone expecting a special entrance performance? I did that last time, so it will just be normal this time. I have to pay for it myself! (laughing) I think the beginning will go exactly as I had imagined. My ideas get changed and cut at the rehearsal on the day of the fight. I don't know exactly what we are going to do until the day of the fight, so I still really don't know if we will be able to do it like I want or not. We have to have a meeting about that, so I'm sure I will be the first fighter to go to the venue on New Year's Eve. My working hours are longer than anybody else's.
Regarding the fight, surprisingly, I'm not particularly motivated. My conditioning is neither good nor bad. Compared to the November fight, it's not good. That was the high point of the year, including the entrance. I went to the mountaintop, after all. Now, I'm at about 70%. I'm not really that motivated, even for a fighter like Yuki Kondo. He just feels like a normal opponent. My feelings may change on the day of the fight. I expected to be more excited but (our fight from) five years ago is starting to disappear in my mind. Of course, I never feel like losing and I do feel more strongly about that than usual in this fight. The pressure is getting greater and greater.
Kondo is one of the most respected Japanese fighters, and as a fighter, I like he's an incredible man. However, I'm not that excited about our fight. Actually, I think I will be fine if I just stay as my normal self.
Of course I'm happy to be fighting in the New Year's Eve event. When I'm at home on New Year's Eve, watching TV and I see people I know, I always wonder what the hell I'm doing there. I know that fighters that can work on New Year's Eve are very happy. I can tell you that there was a time when I had three VCRs working overtime on New Year's Eve. Even I would get depressed, I'd still watch the shows. (laughing)
People may consider me higher (than Kondo) when it comes to PRIDE but I think Kondo can beat the guys that I have beaten here. If Kondo can't beat someone, it would be a tough fight for me, too, although I don't think it would be impossible for me to win. The chances of winning would just be lower. So, to me, neither of us is in a higher position that the other. I lost the last time (we fought) and so there are probably people that say Kondo is better. My evaluation of the situation is very different than those from other people.
I didn't see any of Kondo's fights this year, so I went right out and rented his videos as soon as our fight was finalized. I didn't see any big changes. Kondo's style is fixed, and I think he has perfected it. His vector is the same, except he has made it a little longer. My vector, including my fights and my entrances, has completely changed. I'm also looking forward to see how that will change things compared to our last fight.
Will I throw him at the start of the fight like I did the first time? No, I won't do it this time. (laughing) I will just hold him gently. I was too full of myself the last time. I'm not going to do anything that is a waste of energy. I will fight like an economy vehicle. Now I get like 40 miles/gallon. Before I was only getting 10 miles/gallon because I became tired first.
The event won't be broadcasted on TV, but I think there are still a lot of fans that love PRIDE and will come to watch the event on New Year's, or watch it on SkyPerfect or on the internet broadcast. I will do my best to make the performance, the fight and my post-fight comments exciting for those people. Let's seeI'll give 50% to the fight, 35% to the entrance and 15% to the comments.
Yuki Kondo: I get more excited the closer the fight comes. I have special feelings about a rematch with Gono. Although it's a rematch, and I'm the one that has to accept it, I knew we would rematch as soon as our 1st fight was over. I was always ready for it and now it's finally here. If nothing else, I am mentally ready for this. I think I'll be very excited on the day of the fight. My performances weren't very good this year, but I'm not trying to wipe those away. I know why my performance weren't good and I want to show everyone that I have improved myself.
I took a quick look at my last fight with Gono. I've been watching Gono's fights in PRIDE from the start, though. He's a fighter that you can learn from watching each of his fights, like, I want to try to use this or that technique the next time I fight. Punching techniques and techniques to follow-up the clinch. There is a beauty to his movements.
I don't have a special plan. If my body moves, the fight will work itself out. Gono hasn't changed in any big way. His precision has improved but his base is the same. Looking back on our last fight, I think it was a good fight but I won't be able to get away with that fighting style this time. I haven't changed but I think the fight will go in a different direction than the last time. Last time, he underestimated me and I hurt his eye on the ground with punches. I don't think it will go the same way this time. It's possible we will just end up circling each other but I'm also considering some ideas to prevent that. If you want to consider that as my strategy, fine.
The New Year's Eve event has established itself as its own genre now, so I want to contribute to the martial arts industry and help the fans have a good time. You have to work that much harder when there are no television broadcasts. I want to give such a good fight that the television broadcasters won't be able to ignore it.
I do feel like I'm representing Pancrase. It's not that I refuse to lose to fighters that have left Pancrase but I do want to give my best on New Year's Eve.