By Damon Martin, MMAWeekly
With all big names and match-ups coming in the Pride Grand Prix tournament, the fight between Akihiro Gono and Daniel Acacio will probably go as one of the least talked about fights. What a great many people are missing in star power, the fighters competing will definitely make up for it with a battle in the ring.
Akihiro Gono started his career winning a majority of his fights by submission or by decision An excellent grappler, Gono adapted his game for mixed martial arts and in the last few years has started to finish more of his opponents with strikes. A veteran of Pancrase and Shooto, Gono is a solid striker that is also very proficient on the ground. In his debut fight in Pride, Gono took on the larger Maurico “Shogun” Rua and lost by TKO. Although Rua was still working his way to where he’s at now, Gono still showed heart taking that fight and does have a good chin when standing with his opponents.
The Chute Boxe academy has become the premiere training ground for champions, churning out current Pride Middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva and most recently, Pride Middleweight Grand Prix champion, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Now the Chute Boxe team looks to add on yet another championship to their mantle as they send Daniel Acacio into the Pride 183lb tournament Acacio’s one loss was the very first fight of his career and has since reeled off an impressive string of victories. Much like his teammates at Chute Boxe, Acacio is a good ground fighter, but he prefers to stand and knock his opponents out. The Brazilian has only had two fights go to a decision and will definitely be remembered for the vicious soccer kicks he landed on Daiju Takase when they met earlier this year.
Daniel Acacio could be the dark horse in this entire tournament, because although he trains with a team full of champions he is still showing up for this show as a relative unknown. His opponent, Akihiro Gono is very much in the same boat and either of these fighters could win this first fight and really surprise their second round opponent if they are able to come in fresh.
Acacio will probably come out aggressive in this fight and try to end it early because knowing ahead of time that you have to win two fights in one night to continue on, holding on to energy and stamina is very important. Gono is no slouch on his feet and probably won’t be afraid to trade shots with Acacio early on, but I think that the Chute Boxer has more power and more weapons if the fight stays standing. In the same fashion, Acacio will have no problem holding his own on the ground, but he’ll look for the knockout for the better part of this fight.
Prediction: Daniel Acacio by TKO, Rd 2