Former PRIDE champion Takanori Gomi is all square at 1–1 since making the jump to the UFC in early 2010.
After dropping his debut to Kenny Florian, he picked up a highlight reel first round knockout of Tyson Griffin in his return trip inside the octagon. It was the first time Griffin had been stopped in his entire career and a much needed jump start for the Japanese lightweight.
Up next for Gomi is a bout with fan favorite Clay Guida on the main card of UFC 125. The event will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2011.
It’s an appropriate and quality scrap to kick off 2011, with the winner moving up another notch in the 155-pound rankings.
“The Fireball Kid” took some time out of his busy schedule to address his disappointing UFC debut, life outside of the fight game, and training for Guida in Japan.
Check it out:
Derek Bolender: I understand you like to surf in your free time. How often do you surf and how did you get into the sport?
Takanori Gomi: Twice a week during my off season. I started because of my neighborhood friends. We surf at points in Ibaraki and Chiba. We spend time eating and drinking at one of my colleague's summer house there. There we have pro surfers from Hawaii; Nick Mita and Hideyoshi Tanaka. We play around with them.
Derek Bolender: There was a rumor that you were going to try to get your pro license someday. Do you have a license? If not, is that something you will strive to achieve?
Takanori Gomi: My surfing is strictly for relaxation. I am not thinking about becoming pro. I just want to enjoy it as my hobby.
Derek Bolender: Besides surfing, what else do you like to do in your free time?
Takanori Gomi: Drinking (laughs).
Derek Bolender: What is your adult beverage of choice?
Takanori Gomi: I like Bud Light beer and Whisky soda. In Japan, whisky soda is in. But, after all, I like to be drinking with my friends and it doesn’t much matter what I drink.
Derek Bolender: Do you drink during your training camps leading up to fights?
Takanori Gomi: I don’t drink once I start training for the fight. I go without alcohol about two months.
Derek Bolender: You have been to the United States a few times now. Are you familiar with any American music, television shows, or movies of note?
Takanori Gomi: I like American music and movies. I like to listen to hip hop the majority of my time. I bought the Eminem album. During my weight reduction I go to the movie theater often. There I can kill the time and help me forget my hunger. I watch sometimes three to four movies a day. I watch Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp, almost everything.
Derek Bolender: Let’s switch gears. You have had a very long and successful career. Which victory would you say you are most proud of and why?
Takanori Gomi: The fight against Hayato "Mach" Sakurai on New Year’s Eve 2005. Not only did I win over my great senior fighter, but I became the PRIDE champion.
Derek Bolender: You finally made your way to the UFC, but ran into a tough test in Kenny Florian in your debut. He was too much for you to overcome. Were you nervous for your first fight inside the octagon?
Takanori Gomi: Yes, I was nervous. Now when I look back I think I wasn't even ready mentally.
Derek Bolender: Were you comfortable fighting in the cage? Do you have a cage in your gym that you train in on a regular basis?
Takanori Gomi: No, we do not have the cage in my gym. The moment I entered the cage I said to myself that this is what I wanted to experience. It was excitement.
Derek Bolender: Florian seemed to be more technically sound with his striking in the fight. He was crisp and accurate and countering nicely. What did you take away from the loss?
Takanori Gomi: The point is it is not how he fought, but it is how I couldn't fight the way I always fight. Since the fight rules are different I was cautious and while I was watching him he dragged me into his pace. I should have fought in my own style.
Derek Bolender: You bounced back with a huge knockout of Tyson Griffin in your last fight. He had not been stopped in his career up to that point. How satisfying was it for you to have your hand raised in the UFC?
Takanori Gomi: It was great feeling. I was thinking and prepared myself to fight all three rounds with him. No matter what happened I was determined to win. I was ready for whatever it took to win.
Derek Bolender: How much of your success against Griffin was due to the fact that you sparred with him at Xtreme Couture in the past and knew what he brought to the table?
Takanori Gomi: I think it helped me a lot spiritually because of my experience sparring with him at Xtreme Couture. And I knew how serious he is and how hard he trained. He is really nice guy. I practiced with him and I felt he was a good rival. That is part of reason I was be able to train hard as well.
Derek Bolender: The counter punch you dropped him with - was that you reacting on instinct or was it something you were looking to time once you felt him out?
Takanori Gomi: It was my reaction punch. It didn’t even feel strong impact. That’s why when I saw him of ground for split second I didn’t know why he was on the ground. And I quickly went for the pound, but it was over.
Derek Bolender: Your next opponent is the UFC’s version of the energizer bunny, Clay Guida. What are some of his strengths and weaknesses you have identified in your preparations?
Takanori Gomi: I am studying now. But first, my concentration is to prepare my body and practice hard to be in best condition knowing this fight is going to be even tougher.
Derek Bolender: Where has your training camp taken place for this fight?
Takanori Gomi: I train myself in Japan. I train at Bushinjuku dojo and Kokushikan University’s wrestling club dojo.
Derek Bolender: Will you be dyeing your hair blonde again for this fight or is this top secret?
Takanori Gomi: I always wonder how my fans will feel.
Derek Bolender: Last, but not least. Look into your crystal ball. Will we see you fighting for the lightweight title in 2011?
Takanori Gomi: Of course, I want to have a chance for the title match, but I know that passage will only be seen after I concentrate on each fight. First, I will concentrate on my next fight. I want to give the best New Year’s show to my fans!
* For further news and information on Gomi check out www.t-gomi.com/us/.
Derek Bolender is a freelance MMA writer who has contributed to CBSSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, and MMAmania.com (in addition to BleacherReport.com). Follow him on Twitter at @DerekBolender.
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