If you were a fan of Pride Fighting Championships, then you are probably aware of the name Takanori Gomi.
The last Pride lightweight champion made waves in the news late last week as the newest addition to the UFC’s 155-pound division. The acquisition of Gomi makes for a great amount of talk, especially with the general opinion that division champion BJ Penn is unbeatable.
While many in the MMA community feel is that there is a new contender to put up against the champion Penn, so many fail to realize that Gomi is still a few good fights away from contending with Penn, if at all.
With a record of (31-5), Gomi is a stand-out in the world of mixed martial arts. Record aside, he is not the same fighter he was when he won Pride’s lightweight title in 2005.
For being as gifted an athlete as he is, it’s difficult to understand why Gomi has had difficulty with his conditioning. There have been times in the past where he has, all but, gassed out completely and put himself into horrible positions allowing opponents to take advantage of his lack submission defense.
If Gomi is to make any legitimate run at BJ Penn, he will have to make some considerable adjustments to his training regimen that will allow him to build the endurance to keep up with the UFC most tenacious division.
Fighters like Kenny Florian and Joe Stevenson are top notch grapplers. Any opening for them to wrap their arms around the neck of the Japanese superstar will surely be regretful on the part of Gomi.
There was a time when the overall consensus was that Takanori Gomi was the world’s best lightweight. During this time, BJ Penn was making his run through the welterweight division. Since BJ Penn returned to 155, Gomi has seemed to lost some sort of mojo or fight sense, if you will.
First he submitted to Marcus Aurelio in 2006 then, four fights later, submitted to Nick Diaz, although the decision was later turned to a no-contest by the CSAC due to Diaz testing positive for marijuana. Back to back losses later on overshadow the four wins he was able to stack up in 2008 and 2009.
The last three to four years have been up and down for Gomi, and now, he seeks to reignite his career on the biggest stage on the sport.
For all the accomplishments he has had in his thirty-six fight career, it is difficult to take Gomi’s run at BJ Penn’s title seriously.
Let’s not forget, Penn already submitted Gomi seven years ago when the two of them fought at Rumble on the Rock 4 where Penn submitted Gomi via rear naked choke. Since then, Gomi has done relatively nothing to improve his ground game.
If he is looking for resurgence, the UFC is probably not the best destination for Gomi to do it. With a rumored bout with former number one contender Kenny Florian on the horizon, Takanori Gomi will not be given any cupcakes opponents to feed on before he climbs into the octagon for a real meal.
“Ken Flo“, as you may know, is no slouch. Despite having lost to the last two lightweight champions, Florian is the in the top three to five of 155-pound fighters in the world. Not only has his boxing improved, but he has never been one to make a fight on the ground easier.
If Gomi is to take on Florian, the likelihood of there being another UFC debut loss for a Pride champion is of the strongest possibility.
If it just comes down to dollars and cents, Gomi being signed by the UFC is a great business deal. The love that Japanese fans still have for Gomi will carry over the Pacific Ocean and translate to dividends upon dividends for Dana White and the Fertita brothers. Gomi’s popularity, alone, will flood UFC gates and drive up pay-per-view numbers.
The feeling is that UFC brass expects nothing more from Gomi than to be a side show attraction and not a legitimate title contender. As long as Penn remains on top, side show may be Gomi’s only claim in the UFC.