Many, including myself, saw Takanori Gomi’s resurgence ending at UFC on Fuel TV 8 in Saitama, Japan. I thought his win-streak was a nice story but was a product of favorable matchmaking. I thought Gomi’s poor training habits would come back to bite him against Diego Sanchez, who is known for his incredible cardio.
Ironically it was Sanchez who came into the fight overweight with a noticeable gut. He was slow and looked uninspired. Gomi, on the other hand, stayed on the outside and picked Sanchez apart with his jab and low kicks. In my mind, Gomi won all three rounds.
The judges, however, disagreed. They awarded Sanchez a terrible 29-28 split decision victory over “The Fireball Kid.” The decision was completely unfounded and may serve to stall what was becoming an amazing career resurrection. Just two years ago, Gomi lost to Nate Diaz by armbar in the first round and it looked as if his career was over. He then went to rip off two straight victories including a fight-of-the-night performance against Mac Danzig. He looked fast and well conditioned.
Against Sanchez he was clearly in better shape and was the faster, more technical fighter. Sanchez did almost nothing in the fight besides throw wild punches and grunt loudly. Gomi immediately negated the few takedowns he did get. Sanchez was never able to keep the Japanese lightweight down for an extended period of time.
Gomi should be matched up against someone who is just a small step down from Sanchez. That way, the UFC will acknowledge that while he may have “lost” the Sanchez fight, his standing in the division was not significantly affected. The UFC loves to match up fighters coming off of losses so a guy like Melvin Guillard could make for a fast, exciting fight. Either way, The Fireball Kid proved a lot in his fight with Sanchez, even though he lost on the scorecards.