Takanori Gomi: Is the Fireball Snuffed Out?

Photo via MMA Weekly

D.W. of Head Kick Legend calls Gomi's crushing loss to Kenny Florian last night the end of an era:

If anything it should be considered a landmark win for Florian, defeating the former PRIDE Lightweight champion with ease on national television, putting another nail in the coffin for PRIDE. For Gomi, this marks yet another failure and another poor performance, with the chain linking back to his loss against Nick Diaz in the US at PRIDE 33 in 2007.

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What this means is for the 31 year old Gomi is that his reign of dominance displayed in SHOOTO and PRIDE has officially come to an end, with no more questions as to if he is still possibly a top lightweight remaining. Unless Gomi can completely revamp his training and re-invent himself, he'll be yet another big name fighter signed to the UFC who was dominant in PRIDE and an undercard fighter in the UFC used to give "big name wins" to up and comers.

Steve Cofield points out that while Gomi may no longer be among the sport's elite, it was hardly a performance to be ashamed of:

Gomi (31-6, 0-1 UFC) was the last lightweight champion for PRIDE and was rated No. 1 or 2 at 155 pounds for much of the early 2000's. At age 31, it's hard to tell how much Gomi has left but he was far from embarrassing in this fight. He competed with Florian for two-plus rounds. The same can't be said for other top-ranked 155ers like Joe Stevenson and Clay Guida, who were beaten much more easily by Florian. On a side note, recent Bellator-signee Roger Huerta, who the UFC didn't want back, also went three rounds with Florian. Florian has now won 11 of 13 with his only two losses coming in UFC title shots against Sean Sherk and B.J. Penn.

Our own Leland Roling worked to counter-act the "Gomi is done" talk in the comments of last night's fight post:

Seriously, the UFC put Gomi in with one of their best lightweights, and he's still improving. Gomi got handled, but seriously... he's done? He could beat most of the bottom tier of lightweights.

People need to cut the over-the-top garbage comments like this. And I imagine all of tomorrow will be the same thing. Kenny owned Gomi with the jab... blah blah blah. Yeah, Kenny is obviously a much better fighter than Gomi, but Gomi isn't the same.

Gomi was unbalanced, had terrible footwork - not even close to reminiscent of his old self, shit defense. He has glimmers of power, but his technical striking isn't there. Will he ever be back? He's 31 and has had bouts of depression over the course of the last two years.

I'll give him some time. I think he can improve, but will he ever beat Kenny? I doubt it. But to say he's done completely is absurd and narrow-sighted.

I think it's not whether or not Gomi is still fighting at a level that will allow him to be competitive with the Clay Guidas and Joe Stevensons of the world it's whether or not the once great Fireball Kid will be interested in fighting at that level.

A fighter who has been at the very top of the mountain might not have much motivation on the downside of his career. As anyone who read my review of Gomi's career or  Sergio Non's excellent review of Gomi-ana yesterday knows, Gomi has been on a slide since 2006 when he dropped a non-title bout to Marcus Aurelio. Ever since then he's been spotty and inconsistent. 

It will be interesting to see how his UFC career unfolds. 

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