Preview: PRIDE Shockwave Undercard

Gono vs. Kondo

Dec 29, 2006
Akihiro Gono (Pictures) vs. Yuki Kondo (Pictures)

Gono and Kondo take to the ring for a second time. Both of these fighters have been in the mix for tournaments (though in different weight classes) so they lose no ground with a win here. In their first meeting Gono was the aggressor early with big slams and shoulder strikes from the clinch.

Kondo came out to trade in the second and would find his striking range from half-mount. Yuki wouldn’t sit between rounds and just paced the ring until he could pound Gono again. Less than a minute into the third, Gono’s corner had seen enough and threw in the towel. Now five years later they face each other once again.

Akihiro Gono (Pictures), 26-12-7, represents Team GRABAKA, and trains with Sanae Kikuta (Pictures) and current PRIDE 183-pound Grand Prix champion Kazuo Misaki (Pictures).

Gono made his PRIDE debut in 2004 against Chute Boxe hero Mauricio Rua (Pictures); he was stopped with strikes late in the opening round. He didn’t make the promotion his home until May of ’05 and has fought exclusively on PRIDE Bushido cards over the past year and a half.

Gono took decision victories over Brazilian fighters Crosley Gracie (Pictures) and Daniel Acacio (Pictures). He fell against to Dan Henderson (Pictures) in the Bushido welterweight tournament, but won his next three bouts, including a dominating performance against Gegard Mousasi (Pictures) in the quarterfinals of the middleweight GP.

Gono would go bell-to-bell with Canadian Denis Kang (Pictures) and lose a decision to the Grand Prix runner up.

Yuki Kondo (Pictures) has a 46-18-6 record in MMA. Yuki became the third light heavyweight King of Pancrase by knocking out Grabaka founder Sanae Kikuta (Pictures). He won the 1996 Neo Blood Tournament, became the fifth King of Pancrase in 1997 and then became the eighth King of Pancrase in 1999. Kondo’s PRIDE record is a dismal 1-5, winning only his debut fight for the organization.

After defeating Mario Sperry (Pictures), Kondo had a shot at Wanderlei Silva (Pictures) but he was shut down quickly and knocked out in less than three minutes. He returned lost a hard-fought split decision to Dan Henderson (Pictures) at Shockwave 2004. Yuki then faced veteran Igor Vovchanchyn (Pictures) and was dominated by a lighter, faster and more powerful Ukrainian than we’d seen in some time.

Two more fights and two more losses — to Kazuhiro Nakamura (Pictures) and Phil Baroni (Pictures) — returned Kondo to Pancrase for three more bouts before this title with Gono.

Though the numbers in PRIDE haven’t been in his favor, Kondo is still a former champion and lit up Gono in their previous meeting. He is also 6-0-1 outside of PRIDE over the last two years. Akihiro has won three of his last four in PRIDE and the loss was by decision to Kang. I’m going with Kondo to turn his luck around and start 2007 on a high note. Kondo by decision.
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