by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Returning to Sengoku this weekend, Dan Hornbuckle will look to pick up possibly the biggest win of his young career when he faces Japanese favorite Akihiro Gono. A winner in nine out of his last 10 fights, Hornbuckle has stayed low on the radar in many conversations about up-and-coming welterweight fighters, but the American hopes to change that on Aug. 2.

With his only loss in the last two-plus years coming by way of fellow American Mike Pyle, it’s Hornbuckle who looks to rebound in his second appearance for the Sengoku promotion.

“Toughest test to date,” Hornbuckle said in an interview with MMAWeekly.com about Gono. “I’m going into his backyard. Ever gone into another kid’s yard and played by his yard rules? I’ve done this all my life, so I’m going to take his ball and come home with the win.”

Having the crowd sided with Gono doesn’t seem to bother him, as he plans on using all of the energy to his advantage to get the win.

“Gono is the crowd favorite in this fight. The entrances that he does are entertaining. His homecoming fight in Saitama Super Arena, the building could run off the electricity the crowd will produce for him,” Hornbuckle stated. “I’m a receptor of that energy; I’ll steal it, feed off it, and use it against him during the fight. I’ve been in that position before nothing new to me.”

One of the strongest weapons that Gono has used in all of his past victories has been his style and flair in fights that has confused and confounded past opponents. Hornbuckle says that he knows what to expect from Gono… the unexpected.

“Gono does have an unorthodox style of fighting. I’ve been around some of the best game planners these past few months and have a strong plan against it,” he commented. “It will be an entertaining fight. ‘The Handler’s’ style fights perfect to dismantle his style. How that plan lays out is classified and will have to be kept sealed till the fight. A little hint: TAE BO!”

The most dangerous opponent sometimes can be one who is fighting with nothing to lose, and with Gono coming back to Japan after going 1-2 in the UFC; he is stepping into this fight like a wounded dog.

“Gono’s back is against the wall with two straight losses and his homecoming fight against The Handler. What more pressure can this guy have?” Hornbuckle asked. “His fire is lit and (he) will come out fired up. The heat that he brings will be taken by The Handler and delivered right back to his face. The harder he comes the more damage he’ll receive. I hold his fate in my hands.”

While fighting in Japan is always an honor for Hornbuckle, he is quick to mention that he will be appearing in America again soon. He is also signed to a deal with Bellator Fighting Championships, and says after his fight against Gono, he’d love another shot at the last fighter to defeat him, Mike Pyle.

Still, Hornbuckle stays focused on Gono and the task at hand, while not forgetting the people that helped to get him to the fight.

“Thanks to all who have helped me along this journey of preparation,” Hornbuckle concluded. “Full Tilt, MMA FIGHTSHOP.CA, Human Performance Lab “Joe Power,” Team Trancend Comp Clan, and Youth Addict, Nutrition @Work, Texas Road House, Bear.mychoices.biz, Primtime Exteme Fight Gear, Goshin Jitsu, McVicker Jiu Jitsu! Thanks again to everyone who has helped me come this far, for all your sacrifice, time, dedication and belief in my goal, and belief of how far we’re all going to go.”

Dan Hornbuckle faces Akihiro Gono on Aug. 2 at Sengoku 9 in Japan.