With our last article – talking about “The Fireball Kid” hoping to sign with an American MMA league I figured we should shine a little spotlight on the guy. I would imagine not too many people really know who he is here in the states unless your a super hard core fan like myself of the entire sport encompassing all the leagues world wide. So I have put together a small bio highlighting Gomi’s career.
Takanori Gomi is a Japanese mixed martial artist. Gomi is a former Shooto Welterweight Champion and was the final holder of the lightweight title from defunct promotion Pride Fighting Championship. He is also a four-time All Japan Combat Wrestling champion. Characterized by his ambidexterity in striking, Gomi was for a long time, before his loss to Sergey Golyaev, considered to be among the best lightweight fighters in the world.
He has a great list of very popular fighters he has beaten, and in some case vicious fassion. Gomi if brought into the UFC or Strikeforce will definitely be a huge force to be
Career with Pride Fighting Championship:
After back-to-back losses, Gomi found a new home in Japan’s biggest MMA organization, the Pride Fighting Championships. He made his debut within the organization on February 15, 2004 at Pride Bushido 2 where he fought Jadson Costa of the famed Chute Boxe team out of Brazil. Gomi stopped Costa via TKO half way through the first round.
Gomi was asked back to Pride to face off with the undefeated Ralph Gracie at Pride Bushido 3. Gracie was the first coach of B.J. Penn, one of Gomi’s losses. Unlike his fight with Penn, Gomi made quick work of Gracie, scoring a six second TKO in the first round- the quickest match in the organization’s history, due to repeated knee strikes.
Takanori remained within the Bushido series, fighting and defeating both Fabio Mello and Charles “Crazy Horse” Bennett in the first round at Pride Bushido 4 and Pride Bushido 5. Mello later noted that, “Apart from being a good wrestler and a fine striker, Gomi knows how to defend on the ground. He is a complete fighter who, due to his MMA experience, grows as the bout unfolds.
Gomi then appeared at Pride’s New Year’s Eve show, Pride Shockwave 2004, against former UFC Lightweight Champion Jens Pulver. Gomi scored a knockout with an uppercut at 6:21 in the first round.
Gomi started off 2005 with a win over Luiz Azeredo at Pride Bushido 7. Azeredo dominated the fight from the opening bell with knees, punches, and flying kicks, but at the 3:46 mark of the first round, Gomi caught Luiz with two hooks that sent the Chute Boxe fighter to the mat. Gomi was then criticized for continuing to attack, even after Azeredo became unconscious, and was restrained by Dream Stage Entertainment (DSE) crew and staff. The Chute Boxe team stormed the ring and got into an altercation with Kiguchi Dojo. Gomi later stated that the extracurricular attack was due to adrenaline and apologized for his actions.
Wanting to capitalize on the altercation at Pride Bushido 7 and Gomi’s wins over Chute Boxe team members Jadson Costa and Luiz Azeredo, Pride set Gomi up with Chute Box lightweight and Cage Rage champion Jean Silva at Pride Bushido 8. Gomi won the fight by unanimous decision, securing an armbar in the waning seconds of the fight.
In August, Pride announced that in the month of September they would be hosting an eight-man lightweight tournament. The first round set up Takanori Gomi with fellow Japanese fighter and then Shooto world welterweight champion Tatsuya Kawajiri. This fight was billed “the battle of the twenty first century boys” in Japan due to the popularity and world-class match up of the two fighters. Many MMA critics had Gomi ranked number one and Kawajiri number two in the lightweight division. Gomi submitted Kawajiri in the first round with a rear naked choke. Gomi then had to fight again later that night in the semi-finals against Luiz Azeredo. Gomi won via unanimous decision, becoming a finalist in the 2005 Lightweight Grand Prix.
Gomi met the other finalist, Hayato Sakurai, at Pride Shockwave 2005. Sakurai and Gomi were teammates at the official Shooto gym back in the late 90’s. Sakurai defeated Jens Pulver and Joachim Hansen to reach the finals. After some exchanges on their feet, Sakurai tried to take Gomi down with a hip toss, but on the way down, Gomi ended up on top in the mount. “The Fireball Kid” began to rain down punches, and after taking a lot of shots Sakurai twisted to escape, giving his back to Gomi. Finally Sakurai escaped and both fighters were on their feet, but the punches had taken their toll on Sakurai. Gomi threw a right hand and then followed up with a left-right combination. The last right hook caught Sakurai on the chin, knocking him out at 3:56 of the first round. Gomi was crowned the Pride 2005 Lightweight Grand Prix champion.
Gomi then made his 2006 debut at Pride Bushido 10. Before the event, DSE announced that Gomi would be crowned the Pride world lightweight champion due to winning the Pride 2005 Lightweight Grand Prix, although the upcoming Bushido 10 fight would not be a title match. He then faced Marcus Aurelio of American Top Team later that night. Aurelio choked out Gomi within the first round with an arm triangle. This match-up was a huge upset and put a lot of doubt within Gomi’s ability to fight off of his back. Although Aurelio won the match, it was a non-title bout, with Takanori Gomi remaining the Pride lightweight champion. Gomi said he took the match too easily and that this loss was the best thing for him to refocus and become a better fighter.
After a few months off while building his Rascal Gym, Gomi made his return to the Pride ring at Pride Bushido 12 against 10-1 French fighter David Baron. Baron seemed willing to trade with Gomi and managed to slip some punches. Eventually Gomi caught up with him and knocked the Frenchman down, mixing up punches to the head and body. Baron missed a takedown attempt, allowing the Pride champion to get around his back and slam Baron to the ground. Baron rolled in an attempt to shake off his Japanese opponent, but Gomi held on, sinking in a rear naked choke. Baron defended the choke as long as he could, but eventually Gomi completed the technique, forcing Baron to tap at the 7:10 mark of the first round. Baron had previously won a tournament in Europe for the right to face Gomi.
Gomi rematched Aurelio at Pride Bushido 13 on November 5, 2006. This time the Pride lightweight championship was on the line. Both fighters were extremely cautious, and many times the referee could be heard calling for more action during the bout. Aurelio’s jab was effective and hit the champion several times. Gomi, often switching his stance, replied with strikes of his own and landed numerous leg kicks. Several times the American Top Team fighter ended up on his back after failed takedown attempts. Rather than follow him down, Gomi just kicked Aurelio’s legs until the referee would stand the action back up.
Aurelio scored a clean takedown at the end of the first round, though. Aurelio attempted another takedown in the second, only to see “The Fireball Kid” counter with a kimura. Gomi showed shades of his past catch wrestling accolades when he countered another Aurelio takedown attempt with a half-nelson. He did not follow Aurelio to the ground, instead attacking his legs with kicks. Gomi refused to follow Aurelio to the ground despite his opponent’s taunting. Gomi knocked down Aurelio with a body shot late in the last round, and the bout ended with Gomi connecting with a hard kick to Aurelio’s body just before the final bell. The fight went to the judges and Gomi retained his title, walking away with the split decision.
Gomi’s earned a first round knockout against Mitsuhiro Ishida at Pride Shockwave 2006. Less than a minute into the fight Gomi countered a right leg kick from Ishida with a straight left punch that knocked him down. Gomi immediately went in for the finish, stopping Ishida with a series of hammer fists.
At Pride 33, Gomi suffered a loss to UFC veteran, Nick Diaz by way of gogoplata submission. In the beginning of the first round, Gomi was landing blows on the taller Diaz, even scoring a knockdown, which he was unable to capitalize upon. However, Diaz came back quickly and began to bombard Gomi, who had become visibly exhausted, with straight jabs and right hands for the later half of the round. As the second round opened, Gomi gamely tried to regain lost ground, but after a double leg takedown into Diaz’s guard, suddenly found himself in a gogoplata submission. The lightweight champion tapped out at 1:46 of the second round. However, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has declared the fight a “no contest” after Diaz tested positive for marijuana.
By the end of his Pride tenture, Gomi was 13-1 with 1 NC in Pride.
Championships & Accomplishments
- 2nd All Japan Combat Wrestling Championships (69 kg division) 3rd place 1998
- 5th All Japan Combat Wrestling Championships (69 kg division) 1st place 2001
- 6th All Japan Combat Wrestling Championships (67 – 74 kg division) 1st place, March 24, 2002
- 8th All Japan Combat Wrestling Championships (67 – 74 kg division) 1st place, February 23, 2003
- 12th All Japan Combat Wrestling Championships (67–74 kg division) 1st place 2007
Mixed martial arts
- Pride World lightweight champion (April 1, 2006 – present)
- Pride 2005 Lightweight Grand Prix Champion (December 31, 2005)
- Shooto Welterweight Champion (December 16, 2001 – August 10, 2003)