Image via Esther Lin of MMA Fighting
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
What have these two done recently?
Gomi: L - Nate Diaz (SUB) | L - Clay Guida (SUB) | W - Tyson Griffin (EPIC KO)
Mitsuoka: W - Bruno Carvalho (UD) | W - Jung Gyeong Lee (SUB) | L - Kazunori Yokota (UD)
How did these two get here?
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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UFC 144 Weigh-In Video And Coverage - Tim Burke
UFC 144: Anthony Pettis Vs. Joe Lauzon Dissection - Dallas Winston
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UFC 144: Edgar Vs. Henderson Staff Predictions - Tim Burke
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UFC 144: Yushin Okami Vs. Tim Boetsch Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 144 Video: Dana White Video Blog Episode 2 - Kid Nate
UFC 144: Rampage Jackson On The Streets Of Tokyo - Kid Nate
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UFC 144: The Epic Drama Of Yoshihiro Akiyama - Fraser Coffeen
UFC 144: Is Frankie Edgar Being Underrated Against Ben Henderson? - Fraser Coffeen
UFC 144: Hatsu Hioki Vs. Bart Palaszewski Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 144 Roundtable: Can The UFC Succeed In Japan? - Tim Burke
UFC 144 Predictions: Pros Slightly Favor Frankie Edgar To Beat Ben Henderson - Brent Brookhouse
UFC 144: Takanori Gomi Vs. Eiji Mitsuoka Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 144 Judo Chop: Benson Henderson And The Miracle of Survival Part 2 of 2 - Ben Thapa
UFC 144 Video: Under PRIDE Rules, Rampage Jackson Dominates Fight Against Ryan Bader - Anton Tabuena
UFC 144 Video: Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson Fight Simulation And Prediction - Anton Tabuena
UFC 144 Pre-Fight Press Conference Video - Tim Burke
UFC 144: Yoshihiro Akiyama Leads The UFC Back To Japan - Kid Nate
UFC 144: Should The Winner Of Joe Lauzon Vs. Anthony Pettis Get The Next Title Shot? - Brent Brookhouse
UFC 144: Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto Vs. Vaughan Lee Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 144: Riki Fukuda Vs. Steve Cantwell Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 144 Judo Chop: Benson Henderson And The Miracle Of Survival Part 1 of 2 - Ben Thapa
UFC 144: Edgar Vs. Henderson Countdown Show Full Video - Anton Tabuena
UFC 144: Edgar Vs. Henderson Betting Lines - Tim Burke
UFC 144: Rampage Jackson Is A Death Sentence For Ryan Bader According To Michael Bisping - Brent Brookhouse
UFC 144 Manga-Style Promo Video - Kid Nate
UFC 144: Takeya Mizugaki Vs. Chris Cariaso Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 144: Tiequan Zhang Vs. Issei Tamura Dissection - Dallas Winston