Not that long ago Takanori Gomi set atop the lightweight rankings.
Those days are in the past and many have written the Japanese superstar off, saying the game has passed him by. “The Fireball Kid” will be looking to ride the momentum of his face-planting knockout win over Tyson Griffin in August by finishing Clay Guida and becoming relevant in the top ten rankings again.
Guida is coming off back-to-back victories and will be bringing his usual relentless pace and tenacity with him on Jan. 1 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas when he faces Gomi in the first bout on the pay-per-view portion of the UFC 125 fight card.
The stylistic match-up comes down to whether or not Guida stands in front of Gomi and exchanges, or tries to employ a clinch and wrestling strategy, outworking and fatiguing Gomi as the fight wears on.
But it’s not that simple. Gomi has good wrestling. He was able to handle Tatsuya Kawajiri’s takedown attempts. That was five years ago, but the point is he’s faced wrestlers before and defeated them.
While Guida has shown improvement in his striking, Gomi has the edge in the stand-up. Both have legendary granite chins, but what Gomi has that Guida does not is the punching power to turn granite into gravel.
Gomi unleashes wide power hooks that creates the opening to counter strike him. A jab worked wonders for Kenny Florian against Gomi, but Guida doesn’t have the reach of Florian. Striking with Gomi will not win Guida the fight.
The area Guida has a clear advantage in is conditioning. He doesn’t slow during the course of a 15-minute bout. We’ve seen Gomi fade. The longer the fight goes, the more it favors Guida.
The odds makers have Guida as a -150 favorite and Gomi a slight underdog at +120. I don’t disagree with them. This fight could go either way.
If it ends early, expect Gomi’s hand to be raised. If it goes the distance, Guida’s no quit attitude and determination to always move forward plays big in the judges’ minds.
My official pick: Gomi by TKO.