After Takanori Gomi's lopsided loss to Kenny Florian in his March UFC debut, the consensus was that former PRIDE Lightweight champion's time as a relevant fighter had come to an end. Since the demise of PRIDE, he'd spent a lackluster two years in Japan fighting sub-par competition in Sengoku and Shooto, and the Florian loss was the final nail in the coffin. In that fight, Gomi looked slow, tentative, and simply unable to counter anything from Florian's diverse skillset. Going into last night's fight with Tyson Griffin, many felt he had one foot out of the UFC's door and was poised to be pushed out completely.
Today, after a beautiful, crushing punch that put out Griffin, Gomi's career has new life. But where exactly does that leave him in a division currently in flux? Here's Head Kick Legend's Dave Walsh on Gomi:
Takanori Gomi is the same fighter he's always been. The same guy that knocked out Sakurai. The same guy that had the epic war with Nick Diaz. The same guy that won titles in two of Japan's historically biggest promotions. He might have slowed down a small fraction but that is inevitable with the passing of time. The fact is that Gomi always got by with his subpar work ethic when he fought lower level competition. He could knock out fighters like Mitsuhiro Ishida and Luiz Azeredo because they have lackluster chins. He could submit fighters like David Baron and Charles Bennett because their ground games were not up to snuff. Gomi's problems now are precisely the exact reasons he lost his previous fights. He didn't train hard for certain opponents and they either made him pay for it (like Kitaoka, Marcus Aurelio, or Diaz) or he went to unenthusing decisions (like Seung Hwang Bang, Sergey Golyaev, and Jean Silva). The Florian loss was a combination of not having a good training camp and fighting one of the best lightweights out there. Training with Nobuhiro Obiya and Akira Okada at Kugayama Rascal is just not cutting it when you're trying to be an elite lightweight who's fighting at the top level. Going to the States and training here would do wonders for Gomi. He's also never been one for in-cage strategy. It is no secret that Gomi has a lot of success when his opponents start to brawl with him. Gomi's got natural power and enough punching technique to where he can starch guys that come in on him lazily. That ability is always going to be there and we saw it against Tyson Griffin.
I'll trust Walsh's characterization; the man has followed Japanese MMA since before I even knew the UFC existed. With that said, it seems that a focused, well-trained Gomi remains a threat to nearly anyone. And while I wouldn't favor him against current champ Frankie Edgar or BJ Penn and Kenny Florian in rematches, it doesn't seem far-fetched that we could see Gomi climbing into contention. Fights with top contenders George Sotiropolous and Gray Maynard are quite winnable and would create serious buzz around Gomi for a title shot. In fact, I think Gomi's next fight should be against either the Guida/Dos Anjos winner at UFC 117, or George Sotiropolous.
So what do you think, MMA For Realer's? Do you see the former PRIDE champion eventually fighting for UFC gold?
Will Takanori Gomi ever fight for the UFC Lightweight Championship?
Yes (153 votes)
No (61 votes)
214 total votes