Why can't the former Pride lightweight champion catch a break? It seems like the most exciting Japanese fighter you'll ever come across has constantly been matched against grappling guys since he came to the UFC. Tomorrow will be no different, but us Pride Never Die types can dream about fireworks anyway. Takanori Gomi(32-8, 1 NC, 1-3 UFC) meets UFC newcomer Eiji Mitsuoka (18-7-2, 0-0 UFC).
Neither fighter is currently ranked in the USA Today/BE Consensus Rankings, and not much is going to change no matter the outcome. Gomi used to be at the very top of the heap in this division, but not any more. Mitsuoka could earn some old-school votes with a dominant victory, but I wouldn't count on it. This lightweight UFC 144 fight is part of the preliminary card, and will are live on FX. The FX broadcast begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
How do these two stack up?
Gomi: 33 years old | 5'8" | 70" reach Mitsuoka: 36 years old | 5'7" | Unknown reach
Takanori "The Fireball Kid" Gomi is a legend. But the former Shooto and Pride lightweight champion has fallen on hard times over the last four years, going just 4-5 since Pride folded and only winning one of his four UFC bouts to date. His four All Japan Combat Wrestling championships haven't been enough to deal with the likes of Clay Guida and Kenny Florian so far, and he's not getting any younger. Every Pride fan lost their minds when the old Gomi emerged briefly against Tyson Griffin, but Nate Diaz put the resurgence idea to bed with a dominant victory at UFC 135. Can Gomi give Japanese fans one more moment of glory? I certainly hope so, but I've starting get used to being disappointed.
Eiji Mitsuoka has been a staple of the Japanese MMA scene for over 10 years now, and got the late call when scheduled Gomi opponent George Sotiropoulos went down with an injury. Only two people have stopped Gleison Tibau by TKO - one is Nick Diaz, the other is Eiji Mitsuoka. He has also defeated the likes of Joachim Hansen, Brian Cobb, and Rodrigo Damm. He spent a long time in Sengoku, but switched over to Dream last year and defeated Bruno Carvalho by decision. He's a crafty submission fighter with a very good chin, and while you might not know his name, he's a solid opponent for Gomi.
Why should you care?
If you don't care about Takanori Gomi (even 2012 Gomi), I don't care about you. For the realists out there, this is classic striker vs. grappler. I highly doubt this is going to a decision, so you'll probably enjoy what you're watching either way.
You can catch more UFC 144 preview content from Bloody Elbow after the jump.
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