September 26, 2005

by Damon Martin
In a performance that could be described as nothing less than spectacular, Takanori Gomi proved once again why he truly is the best lightweight fighter in the world when he advanced to the finals of the Pride lightweight tournament with two very impressive victories.

Takanori Gomi has been on a meteoric rise for quite some time now and continues to show improvement with every fight. It’s hard to believe that almost exactly two years ago he lost back to back fights before stringing together his current winning streak. Gomi lost a tough split decision to Joachim Hansen in Shooto, and then lost his most lopsided fight when he was choked out by B.J. Penn at Rumble on the Rock. Gomi’s resiliency was never questioned and soon enough he became the staple of the Bushido shows for Pride.

Since his debut at the second Bushido show when he defeated Jadson Costa, Gomi has shown over time that he is truly ready to be champion. He was able to put Ralph Gracie away with some very wicked knee strikes and out struck a very heavy handed Jens Pulver when they fought last New Year’s Eve.

He looked as if he was going to pull Charles Bennett’s arm off until the referee stopped their fight and gained a bit of a bad persona after a few late hits when he defeated Luiz Azeredo in their first fight. Gomi just keeps coming and his onslaught is unmatched in the lightweight division.

In the first round of the Pride lightweight tournament, Gomi was given no easy test as he was matched up with arguably the number 2 ranked lightweight fighter in the world, Tatsuya Kawajiri. Gomi wasted no time bringing the fight to Kawajiri and looked ready for every possible offensive move that his opponent had in his arsenal. Eventually Gomi’s will seemed too much and he sunk in a rear naked choke to get the win.

Gomi obviously spent a great deal of energy to defeat Kawajiri, but he kept enough in reserve for his second fight of the night a rematch with Chute Boxe team member, Luiz Azeredo in a highly contested fight. Azeredo gave everything Gomi could handle in their first fight and he was looking to hand Gomi his first loss in almost two years when they stepped to the middle of the ring. Instead of showing any signs of exhaustion, Gomi controlled the pace of the fight, and positioned himself for the win. Although he wasn’t able to finish Azeredo, Gomi was convincing in his unanimous decision victory and he put himself into the finals of the first ever Pride lightweight tournament.

The scary thing about Gomi is that he may not have reached his full potential yet. He is unbelievably talented, but when he has a fire under him, much like the first Azeredo fight, Gomi is possibly the most dangerous fighter on the planet. No top “pound for pound” fighter list in the world should be produced without Gomi’s name being listed somewhere near the top and if he is able to defeat his opponent, Hayato “Mach” Sakarai in the finals of the tournament for this year’s New Year’s Eve show, he will become champion and seemingly untouchable.

There are plenty of opponents for Gomi to take on in Pride’s lightweight division, and he won’t be one to pass up on any opportunity to get a win. A rematch with Joachim Hansen has to be a top priority for Gomi if he’s able to capture the title. American fans would love to see Yves Edwards get a shot at him, as well as Josh Thompson who wasn’t able to fight in the tournament.

The fact is that Takanori Gomi is possibly the top fighter in the world today and he always puts on a great show. It will be interesting to see him match up against Sakarai because Gomi is usually the bigger fighter in his matches, but don’t expect him to back down at all.

Takanori Gomi is definitely sitting on top of the world right now, and the sky is the limit.