(Akihiro Gono at Bellator photo shoot)
For every fight, Akihiro Gono prepares a note listing reminders and pointersabout what he needs to do in the fight. And its his corner man's job to showthis note between the rounds, sometime, before the fight.
This past weekend, at Casino Rama in Orillia Canada, Gono faced Bellatorlightweight champion Michael Chandler.
Before the fight, in the dressing room, Gono was looking at thenote. There were about four to five pointers listed, and at the end, withan underline, it said, "Its your last fight so assert yourself."
I believe Gono made his decision before the fight in terms of career as MMA fighter.
If i can't win this then I am done with MMA.
And he didn't win. In fact he was demolished in just 56 second.
However, after the fight, not even once, Gono looked down.
He kept his head up, and he was staring at everything around him.
Cage, fans, referees, Chandler, lights, etc.
Sure he did look stunned and of course he did look frustrated from the defeatbut at the same time Gono looked like he was try to feel everything in thecage.
It was almost like, "Its my last time here as a fighter so I gotta feeleverything now."
Needless to say, Gono has done so much in this sport.
And at the end, he got beat by the young champion who maybe on the way tobuilding his own era.
It was sort of like, passing the torch.
At the post-fight press conference, with tears, Gono said, "I will followMr Chandler's career as one of his biggest fans"
That's right, Gono went out with a style.
Till the very last moment, Akihiro Gono was Akihiro Gono.
Reportand photo by Shu Hirata
Gono kept his head up while MC called Michael Chandler as the winner of thefight.
When Gono announced his retirement at the press conference, everyone in theroom showed him a huge respect with standing ovation.