Akihiro Gono will return to action against Octagon newcomer, Dan Hardy, in a welterweight tilt set for UFC 89: "Leben vs. Bisping" at The National Indoor Arena (NIA) in Birmingham, England, on October 18, according to CageWarriors.com.
Ghono was set to take on Jon Fitch at UFC 82: "Pride of a Champion" back in March; however, the Japanese showman has to withdraw from the bout because of a hand injury that required surgery to repair. In fact, Ghono has a history of hand injuries and needed time for it to mend otherwise it could have threatened his future fighting career.
He has one win in one attempt inside the Octagon -- a beautiful submission (armbar) of Tamdan McCrory back at UFC 78: "Validation" in November 2007.
Hardy — who is the reigning Cage Warriors welterweight champion — has won eight of his last nine bouts and the lone loss during that span was because of a disqualification. "The Outlaw" is considered to be the top British welterweight prospect. He is a Taekwondo black belt and "kickboxing expert" who has been competing in professional MMA since 2004.
Here's a snip from Hardy:
"I'm excited to be fighting such a tough, well-respected fighter for my debut as Gono. It shows that the UFC know I am capable of dealing with the top tier guys and I am very grateful for the opportunity to go in at this kind of level. Gono has been in there with some of the best fighters in the world and always put on a good show, he comes to fight and has very good counter-strikes and some interesting submissions. He is a perfect opponent for me to prove my place in the UFC welterweight division and give the fans a great show. Fighting so close to home will be good because all of the people that have supported me through my career will be able to be there for my debut in the UFC."
This is solid fight that pits a crafty veteran against a promising young star. It should be a good one.
The UFC 89 card is beginning to take shape with several intriguing bouts that include Michael Bisping, Chris Leben, Diego Sanchez, Thiago Alves and others.