World Victory Road has confirmed the addition of Akihiro "The Japanese Sensation" Gono to the upcoming Sengoku: "Eleventh Battle."
Gono (29-15-7) returns to action against the Spirit MC veteran, Yoon Young Kim (12-4), punctuating a fight card that will take place on Nov. 7 at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. Additionally, an event-opening bout billed as "Fight of the Soul" between featherweights, Tomoaki Ueyama (2-3) and Hirokazu "Bull" Konno (1-3), has been booked.
Gono, a 15-year veteran of the sport, has fought in many of the world's pre-eminent organizations, including Pancrase, Shooto, PRIDE, and UFC. Having dropped his last three bouts, the upcoming showdown against Kim presents him with a do-or-die situation. In his lackluster stint under the UFC banner, he has incurred consecutive losses to Dan Hardy and Jon Fitch despite notching a submission-of-the-night victory over the previously undefeated Tamdan McCrory in his UFC debut.
At Sengoku: "Ninth Battle," his homecoming celebration was foiled by the highlight-reel knockout courtesy of Dan Hornbuckle, which rendered Gono prone and motionless on the mat, forcing the WVR staff to rush him to hospital.
Kim, who sports the ring moniker of "Shin ramen," has cut his teeth in Spirit MC in South Korea. Standing at 6'2" the long-limbed welterweight boasts eight victories by submission. In his last two fights, he triumphed over Kosei Kubota and Ken Hamamura in Japanese promotions, Heat and DEEP, respectively. Having won eight of his last 10 bouts, he looks to maintain his momentum against Gono, his most decorated opponent to date.
Both Ueyama and Konno began their careers with strings of losses before picking up wins in their recent fights. Ueyama went 0-3 in Japan's Greatest Common Multiple promotion before back-to-back TKO wins in M-1 Challenge and DEEP this year. Konno, meanwhile, snapped a three-fight losing streak with a decision victory over Osuma Ishizuka in December.
- A number of participants has been confirmed for the Sengoku Raiden Championship event on New Year's Eve. The tenative roster includes: Mizuto Hirota, Masanori Kanehara, Satoru Kitaoka, Hatsu Hioki, Michihiro Omigawa, Kazunori Yokota, Eiji Mitsuoka, Makoto Takimoto, Kazuhiro Nakamura, and Hiroshi Izumi. As previously reported, WVR PR director, Takahiro Kokuho reiterated the plan to put at least three titles on the line at the event.
- WVR is currently ruminating on the opponent for Hiroshi Izumi, a former judo Olympic silver medalist who made his debut at Sengoku: "Tenth Battle" against Antz "Notorious" Nansen. Izumi may face another non-Japanese fighter but no further detail has been disclosed at the moment. It seems that WVR wants to groom him carefully so that he will have a viable MMA career.
- The next commission meeting will be held in December and one of the topics of discussion will be the possibility of Kazuo Misaki's participation in the NYE event. Misaki has been on a suspension due to his indiscretion earlier this year. Kokuho has stated his wish to add him to the NYE roster, as he has been behaving well; however, nothing is definite at this point.
- A large press conference will be held next week for Sengoku Raiden Championship 12 and the Japanese fighters will be in attendance. Regarding the rumored TV deal with one of the major networks, Kokuho said: "I think I’ll be able to make some kind of announcement next week".