Come November 10th, Takanori Gomi and Mac Danzig will square off in a featured lightweight contest. The bout promises fireworks, as Danzig’s footwork is brilliant, and he’s showcased some sound boxing skills. Gomi, on the other hand, is a refined brawler with enough power in his fists to render foes unconscious with a single blow.
These are aesthetically pleasing combatants who rarely turn in drab performances. They go for the gusto, and seek the finish. The term point fighting doesn’t seem to be in either man’s vocabulary.
Having said this, fully acknowledging the crowd-pleasing style that both bring to competition, neither man has managed to make serious waves within the division. To say that both men have failed to meet fan expectations, in regard to winning bouts, is a fair assessment.
Mac Danzig won the sixth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Since stopping Tom Speer via submission to claim that title, Danzig has pieced together a sketchy 5-5 record fighting for the promotion.
In contrast, Takanori Gomi was able to leapfrog the TUF fiasco, making his debut at UFC Fight Night 21. Welcoming him to the largest promotion in the world was Kenny Florian, who upset the Japanese star's debut by submitting him in the third round. Gomi has thus far amassed a 2-3 record inside the Octagon.
Each man can boast an impressive win or two during their UFC tenure: Gomi leveled Tyson Griffin at UFC Live 2, and Danzig put former title challenger Joe Stevenson to sleep with a picture-perfect punch at UFC 124.
Beyond these accolades, neither man has accomplished all that much. The case can be made that both men are on the downside of their careers. But if that’s the case, are they fit to compete with the absolute best in the world?
It should be noted that each man will enter this fight coming off of victorious performances inside the cage: Danzig picked up a unanimous decision over another former TUF winner in Efrain Escudero at UFC 145, and Gomi stopped Eiji Mitsuoka with strikes at UFC 144.
Given Danzig’s exposure on The Ultimate Fighter, and Gomi’s legendary days fighting for pride, each man is worthy of a little leeway. However, Gomi sports a sub-.500 record while fighting under the famed Zuffa-owned banner, and Danzig sits right there at .500.
What the UFC clamors for is winners—marketable, flashy winners. Gomi may look profoundly dynamic in his attacks at times, but he’s missing the cushion that comes with solid success. The same could be said of Danzig.
If a fighter hopes to ensure longevity with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, ultimately, he must win.
A loss for either man at UFC on FUEL TV 6 could potentially spell disaster. Gomi may be thrown a bone if he comes up short in this competition; his fanbase is still strong, and he represents a drawing power in Japan that Dana White and company certainly recognize.
Mac Danzig, on the other hand, may very well have his head resting on the chopping block. The lightweight division is packed with amazing talent, talent he’s unlikely to rival at this stage of his career, and he lacks the international appeal of “The Fireball Kid.”
While I’d prefer to see these two respectable warriors continue to hold a place on the UFC roster, there’s a very material chance that the loser of this bout picks up his walking papers. The greater danger looms over Danzig’s head, as a UFC record of 5-6 doesn’t typically cut it (sure, there are exceptions, but the majority of those exceptions are fighters who draw massive fan attention courtesy of brutally violent and highly entertaining affairs) these days.
However, Gomi certainly isn’t sitting in a safe position, and a loss in Macau could signal the end of Takanori’s UFC run. Like it or not, both of these men face the chopping block.
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