Props: DREAM Official
"To be honest, since Gono is my friend, my spirit sank a little when the fight card was announced. But we are professionals and this is a fight that the fans want to see, so I will give my best. No one wants to see a lukewarm fight between friends, right? Instead, we will have a murderous battle for fifteen minutes... yes that's what we want to do... we will (laughs). Gono is really talented. When he fought in Shooto, he had yet to discover his style so he struggled in some of the fights. Once he started coming into his own, however, he was amazing in PRIDE. He is a very cerebral fighter. Seriously, if I were not fighting him this time, I had been thinking about training with him to absorb the techniques of the master strategist. I can't cut myself any slack since he is craftier than I am. (Asked how he predicts the fight to unfold, given the mutual knowledge of their fighting styles between him and Gono) You know he is crafty, but let's see.... I really should think about that, using what little brain I have. I usually do not formulate a game plan. Even when out in the wild, human beings are capable of using their brains to invent devices like guns to hunt lions. After all, fighters who can think their way through fights are formidable. So I need to utilize what little furrows I have in my brain and think about my strategy. On New Year's Eve, I will showcase the 'cerebral Mach' (laughs)."
As evidenced by the heated verbal exchange between him and Akihiro Gono at the Dynamite!! press conference last week, Hayato Sakurai is ready to set aside his friendship with Gono for their showdown on NYE. The two Japanese veterans made their Shooto debut in 1996 and have since fought in some of the largest MMA organizations in the world, including UFC and PRIDE. Like Gono alluded to during the conference, Sakurai has arguably been the more successful of the two throughout their 10+ year careers. Sakurai praises the cerebral fighting style that Gono has developed through trials and errors and hopes to counter it with one of his own. Being his usual comical, self-effacing self, Sakurai pokes fun at his ditsiness in the above statement but promises that he will be all business once he and Gono step in the ring at Dynamite !! 2009.