PANCRASE 290 – 10/08/2017: Gono back in Pancraes for the First Time in 12 Years

UFC / PRIDE veteran Akihiro Gono (right)

UFC and PRIDE veteran Akihiro Gono will be back in Pancraes for the first time in 12 years and will face AKIRA in the lightweight bout.

Gono first fought for Pancrase back in 2001.

Back then, Pancrase was in the era after the retirement of promotion’s co-foudner Masakatsu Funaki, and the rivalry between team GRBAKA, founded by Sanae Kikuta, and team Pancrase-ism, led by Yuki Kondo, was one of the main draws.

And, Gono was one of those top popular fighters in this team rivalry.

His recognition level and popularity, however, blossomed when Gono started to fight for PRIDE Bushido.

PRIDE had fewer weight classes than today’s MMA so Gono was fighting at 185 lbs & under yet he went 6-2 in PRIDE Bushido. Two losses were, KO loss against Dan Henderson and unanimous decision loss against Denis Kang.

After PRIDE was bought out by Zuffa in 2007, Gono signed with UFC.

He submitted Tamden McCory in the Octagon debut and also won submission of the night bonus. However, he lost next two fights and got released. Gono lost to Dan Hardy in a split decision, and Jon Fitch via unanimous decision. Two of the top welterweights at the time but it didn’t matter. Those were the days that most fighter just get released if you lose two in a row.

Since then Gono has fought for numerous promotions. Sengoku, DEEP, Bellator, THF, WSOF-GC, Real, and FIGHT2NIGHT. And, not just MMA but also Shoot Boxing and more than few kick boing bouts for the Chinese promotions as well. In fact Gono won HERO LEGEND Asia Championship tournament held in China just two years ago.

He is now 42 years old but apparently still feeling like he can take on top guys in Pancrase because his opponent, AKIRA, ranks third in the lightweight division.

Also, he is 30 years old.

AKIRA recently left the team but he was a student of UFC / PRIDE veteran Takanori Gomi.

AKIRA made a pr MMA debut in Shooto back in 2010, and has been fighting for Pancrase since 2013. He is 7-2-1 in Pancraes and two losses were against Satoru Kitaoka and Kazuki Toudome. The former champions.

So, he is not the best of the bests but AKIRA is one of the top fighters at 155 lbs in Pancrase.

AKIRA likes to come in with hard punches while Gono likes to keep distance and use his feet. They are totally opposite in terms of their striking style.

AKIRA is physical tough. He can take a lot of shots too so Gono probably needs to utilize speed and chop him down.

Sunday, October 8th, 2017
At Differ Ariake, Tokyo, Japan
Doors Open – 14:30
Fight Starts – 15:00

Confirmed Cards (Subject to Change):

Featherweight Bout 5 min / 3R

  • Hiroshige “Hanzo” Tanaka(Japan / Shooting Gym Yokohama) vs Yuki Nakahara (Japan / Mach Dojo)

Flyweight Bout 5 min / 3R

  • Shohei Masumizu(Japan / Masumizu-gumi) vs Tateki Matsuda (Japan / Team Sityodtong)

Strawweight Bout 5 min / 3R

  • Daichi Kitakata(Japan / Pancrase Osaka Inagaki-gumi) vs Daniel “Pac-Man” Lima de Carvalho (Brazil / Team 4 Life)

Lightweight Bout 5 min / 3R

  • AKIRA (Japan / Independent) vs Akihiro Gono(Japan / GRABAKA)


Report by Shu Hirata
Photo courtesy of Bout Review (