Gono will bring his unique style back to the ring on Feb. 18. | Photo: Taro Irei
Akihiro Gono will end the longest hiatus of his lengthy fighting career next month when he faces fellow Japanese veteran Daisuke Nakamura at Deep “57 Impact.”
Deep officials Wednesday announced the addition of the three-round lightweight affair to the promotion’s Feb. 18 card, set to take place at Tokyo Dome City Hall.
The bout will be Gono’s first since August 2010, when the former Pride and UFC welterweight saw his 155-pound debut spoiled by unheralded Mongolian striker Jadamba Narantungalag. The 37-year-old “Japanese Sensation” had won three straight, including an armbar submission of Hayato Sakurai, in the year following his brutal knockout loss to Dan Hornbuckle. A product of the Shooto and Pancrase organizations, Gono has not competed in the Deep ring since a one-off appearance in 2001.
Nakamura, 31, is 4-1 in his last five, the lone loss coming via decision last May to former Deep champ Katsunori Kikuno. The catch wrestling stylist most recently tapped fellow submission specialist Chang Hyun Kim at a Deep cage show in October, the 15th armbar victory of Nakamura’s career.
Also made official Wednesday was a welterweight bout between K-1 veteran Naoki Samukawa and Yoshitomo Watanabe, and a light heavyweight tilt pitting the retiring Bernard Ackah against kickboxer Yuki Niimura.