At the post-fight press conference following his quick TKO loss to Michael Chandler, Japanese star fighter Akihiro "DJ GOZMA" Gono announced his retirement from mixed martial arts.
One of the main reasons I was so pumped for the Bellator 67 show last night was a chance to see one of my favorite fighters of all time, Akihiro Gono, fight on Canadian soil for the first and possibly last time in his storied career.
The 37-year-old Japanese star and mixed martial arts pioneer has given fans some of the most entertaining and colorful performances with his early fights in the Shooto, Pancrase and Pride organizations of Japan.
Despite Gono's pre-fight claims that an upset may be in order, he lost to Chandler quickly and without a fuss, but it was his emotional post-fight press conference announcement and what followed that really stole the show on the evening for me.
After Gono announced through an interpreter that it would indeed be the last MMA fight of his career, his emotions came rushing out and tears streamed down his face as he looked to the sky to try and stop the momentum of his tears.
I was lucky to get the microphone for the first question of the night and I told Gono that despite his fight tonight, the Canadian fans know exactly who he is and what he is about and it was an honor to see him fight in our home country.
The tears continued and after another comment and verbal tribute from Sportsnet analyst Joe Ferraro, the entire press conference room rose in a tremendous standing ovation for Gono. The Japanese legend raised from his seat and bowed his appreciation as tears flowed to the carpet.
It was a classy move by the fans and media in the room and a well-deserved tribute for "The Japanese Sensation."
Thanks for giving us your career, Gono-san. Domo arigato
Dwight Wakabayashi is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report MMA, MMA editor at CKSN.ca and guest blogger for Sportsnet.ca.
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