by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
Pride Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi takes on Shooto Pacific Rim Welterweight Champion Mitsuhiro Ishida. Unfortunately this fight is a non-title match, which doesn’t make very much sense because Ishida is more than deserving of a title shot.

Gomi needs to redeem himself after that horrendous title defense against Marcus Aurelio at Pride Bushido 13. If Ishida is able to beat Gomi at Pride Shockwave 2006, this will be the second time this year that Gomi has lost a fight without his title on the line. Expect this fight to be an interesting fight because both fighters have a lot to prove in this fight.

Takanori Gomi has a 25-3 record in MMA and trains out of Team RASCAL with Nobuhiro Obiya. Gomi is coming off a dull split decision win over Marcus Aurelio at Pride Bushido 13. This was his first title defense and it wasn’t his best showing. Gomi fought a smart although dull fight as he did everything to avoid being on the ground with Aurelio. Throughout the fight, Aurelio was the aggressor as he looked to get the fight to the ground, at the end of the first round he finally got a takedown, but it was at the bell. The second round was a lot better then the first as Gomi began to open up a bit more on the feet. Gomi scored with low kicks, but Aurelio got another takedown but was unable to do much because Gomi quickly got back to his feet. In the last two minutes, Gomi began to let his hands loose and showed excellent takedown defense as he scored with leg kicks, while Aurelio was on his back. What might have swayed the judges in Gomi’s favor was a body kick he landed just as the fight ended.

Gomi defeated up and coming French lightweight David Baron in an exciting fight at Pride Bushido 12. Although outclassed by Gomi, Baron was game throughout the whole fight. Gomi dropped him on several occasions but Baron hung tough and weathered the storm. Baron went for a takedown towards the end of the fight and Gomi was able to get his back. After working for the choke, Gomi was finally able to secure the rear naked choke a little over seven minutes into the first round.

In his first fight since becoming the Pride Lightweight Champion, Gomi was submitted by Marcus Aurelio in an upset. Gomi seemed sluggish throughout the whole fight, as he wasn’t able to land any significant strikes on the feet before being taken down by Aurelio. After some ground work to get in better position, Aurelio was able to secure an arm triangle choke that choked Gomi unconscious and gave him his first loss in Pride. Gomi is an excellent wrestler but he’s now primarily known for his dangerous stand-up, which has been his hallmark in Pride.

Mitsuhiro Ishida has a 14-2-1 record in MMA and trains out of T-Blood with Tatsuya Kawajiri. Ishida is coming off a well-deserved decision victory over Swedish fighter David Bielkheden at Pride Bushido 13. Ishida was relentless as once he took the fight down, he used superior positioning on the ground. Ishida was able to pass Bielkheden’s guard with ease into side mount, where he attempted several kimuras and used his ground and pound to batter Bielkheden. The second round was much of the same with Ishida pounding on Bielkheden en route to a decision victory.

At Pride Bushido 12, Ishida defeated Chute Boxe’s primary BJJ instructor Cristiano Marcello by unanimous decision. Throughout the entire fight Ishida was relentless with ground and pound. Marcello was active from the bottom, going for armbars and triangles, but Ishida defended well and responded back by punishing Marcello with strikes. In the second round, Marcello was able to catch Ishida with a tight armbar that was fully locked on but Ishida kept his composure and escaped. At the end of the fight there was no doubt that Ishida had won.

Ishida became a superstar at Pride Bushido 11, where he dominated Aurelio with ground and pound. After an initial stand-up exchange, where neither fighter scored anything significant, Ishida landed a takedown and dominated the fight from there on. To his credit, Aurelio hung in the fight and was active from his back looking for submissions. Ishida really poured on the punishment in this fight, as he was dominant with brutal ground and pound and never stop being active from the top. The second round was much of the same as Ishida had no problem taking Aurelio down and imposing his will on him. Ishida won the fight by unanimous decision defeating Aurelio, who in the previous Pride Bushido defeated Pride Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi. Ishida is known for his excellent wrestling ability and what seems to be his endless gas tank.

Expect this fight to bring the goods as both fighters have a lot prove. Gomi needs not to just win this fight but to win it in impressive fashion because he needs to get the fans support back after that lackluster performance he had against Aurelio at Pride Bushido 13.

This is a definite step up in class for Ishida and a different type of fighter as Ishida has recently been fighting primarily BJJ fighters and hasn’t been tested on his feet. Gomi will no doubt test Ishida on the feet, but he may be cautious because of Ishida’s takedowns. There is no question if the fight will go to the ground but when it will go to the ground. The earlier the fight gets to the ground the better shot Ishida has to win the fight. The longer the fight stays on the feet, Gomi will start to slowly pick apart Ishida with strikes. Ishida is easily the best wrestler that Gomi has ever faced. This is a tough fight to pick, but it’s Ishida’s time to shine as he has all the momentum and confidence going into this fight and Gomi might still be doubting himself after his last fight. Expect Ishida to get this fight down to the ground early and like always start to open up with his brutal ground and pound throughout the entire fight en route to decision win.