Throughout the mid 2000’s, “The Fireball Kid” Takanori Gomi was considered the top lightweight in the world. He tore through the PRIDE lightweight division with ease, knocking out almost everyone who stood in his path. After joining the UFC in 2010, it looked as if Gomi no longer cared about mixed martial arts. He was slow and out of shape; after losing to Nate Diaz, many thought Gomi was destined to be released.
However, his previous two fights have been eye opening for the Fireball Kid; he stopped Eiji Mitsuoka and took a split decision against Mac Danzig. His fight against Danzig won “fight of the night” honors and it was a spectacular back-and-forth battle. On March 2, 2013 at UFC on Fuel TV 8, Gomi looks to continue his win streak against Diego “The Dream” Sanchez in Saitama, Japan.
Unfortunately for Gomi, Sanchez is going to test his questionable cardio throughout the bout. We will learn whether or not Gomi’s wins were a result favorable matchmaking or if he has truly rededicated himself to training. My heart says that he is back where he needs to be, but my head says that Sanchez’s pressure will be too much. We have seen many veterans fighters re-establish themselves for short periods of time only to falter when pitted against elite competition.
As much as we would all love to see this winning streak continue, I can’t imagine Gomi being able to knock the incredibly durable Sanchez out cold. Sanchez took four rounds of brutal punishment from B.J. Penn and kept on going. That bout was only stopped when Penn opened up a Grand Canyon-sized fissure on Sanchez’s forehead. Gomi’s only path to victory is a knockout and he won’t get one here.
The one thing Sanchez will have to be careful of is brawling with the Fireball Kid. Sanchez will have to stay technical and use his reach to stay on the outside of Gomi’s punches. If Gomi can draw Sanchez into a brawl, he can use his power to his advantage but I do not see Sanchez allowing that to happen. On March 2, Sanchez will stop Gomi’s hype train for good with his incredible pace and toughness.
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