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TAKANORI GOMI

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Takanori Gomi (September 22, 1978-), "The Fireball Kid", is a Japanese mixed martial arts fighter. He was the former Shooto World Welterweight Champion (154lbs) and 2-time All Japan Combat Wrestling champion. Currently, he is fighting in PRIDE Fighting Championships, where he holds the PRIDE World Lightweight Championship and fights for Kiguchi Dojo.

Childhood

Takanori Gomi was born in Kanagawa, Japan in 1978. He started boxing at Sagamihara Yonekura Gym in 1994 while he was attending Kanagawa Prefectural Aikawa Higashi Junior High School. Gomi was very athletic and was the pitcher of the schoolís baseball team, but dropped out of high school in 1996 when he failed to pass on to the next grade. This caused an argument between Gomi and his father who disowned him as a result of the altercation. Gomi then went on to learn wrestling and competed in many wrestling tournaments throughout Japan, the pinnacle of his grappling career being his two All Japan Combat Wrestling championships, in which he defeated a number of the nation's top grapplers, future opponent Mitsuhiro Ishida amongst them.

Early Career

Gomi joined the official Shooto gym in 1997 where he began training and taking part in the amateur Shooto competitions. He made his professional mixed martial arts debut on November 27, 1998 at Shooto Las Grandes Viajes 6 in Tokyo where he defeated Hiroshi Tsuruya by decision. Gomi won his first 14 MMA matches, mostly in the Shooto organization, but also fought in Vale Tudo Japan and in the Hawaiian based organization SuperBrawl. Takanori Gomi became the Shooto World Welterweight Champion in 2001 after defeating former teammate Rumina Sato by unanimous decision on December 16th. Gomi then defeated highly regarded American grappler Chris Brennan on September 16, 2002 via unanimous decision. He defended the Shooto crown also in 2002, beating Dokonjonosuke Mishima by TKO in the second round.

Gomi's first loss was also his last fight in Shooto. It took place on August 10, 2003 at the Yokohama Gymnasium. Gomi lost his title to Norwegian fighter Joachim Hansen by majority decision. This loss was considered a huge upset at the time due to Hansen's 6-1-1 record in MMA.

Gomi then fought UFC veteran, and soon to be UFC Welterweight Champion, B.J. Penn on October 10, 2003 at the Rumble on the Rock 4 event in Honolulu, Hawaii. Gomi was defeated in the third round by rear naked choke in a fairly one sided bout. Many point out that it was Gomi's first fight within a cage and the ability to use elbows, which may explain the uncharacteristic showing from Gomi.

PRIDE Fighting Championships

After two tough back-to-back losses, Gomi found a new home in Japanís premier MMA organization, the PRIDE Fighting Championships. He made his debut within the organization on February 15, 2004 at PRIDE Bushido 2 where he fought Jadson Costa of the famed Chute Boxe team out of Brazil. Gomi stopped Costa via TKO half way through the first round.

Gomi was asked back to PRIDE to face off with the undefeated Ralph Gracie at PRIDE Bushido 3. Gracie was the first coach of BJ Penn, one of Gomiís previous two losses. Unlike his fight with Penn, Gomi made quick work of Ralph scoring a six second TKO in the first round, quickest match in the organizationís history, due to repeated knee strikes.

Takanori remained within the Bushido series fighting and defeating both Fabio Mello and Charles "Crazy Horse" Bennett in the first round at PRIDE Bushido 4 and PRIDE Bushido 5. Gomi then appeared at PRIDEís New Yearís Eve show PRIDE Shockwave 2004 against former UFC Lightweight Champion Jens Pulver. Gomi, being known more for his wrestling and "ground n' pound" than his punching, out struck the former UFC champion and professional boxer. Gomi scored a knock out with an uppercut at 6:21 in the first round. This match solidified the former Shooto champion as the number one lightweight in the world.

Gomi started off 2005 with a win over Luiz Azeredo at PRIDE Bushido 7. Azeredo dominated the fight from the opening bell with knees, punches, and flying kicks. But at the 3:46 mark of the first round, Gomi caught Luiz with a jab and a cross that sent the Chute Boxe fighter to the mat. Gomi was then criticized for continuing to attack, even after Azeredo became unconscious, and was restrained by DSE crew and staff. The Chute Boxe team stormed the ring and got into an altercation with Kiguchi Dojo. Gomi later stated that the extracurricular attack was due to adrenaline and apologized for his actions.

Wanting to capitalize on the altercation at PRIDE Bushido 7 and Gomi's wins over Chute Boxe team members Jadson Costa and Luiz Azeredo, PRIDE set Gomi up with Chute Box lightweight and Cage Rage champion Jean Silva at PRIDE Bushido 8. Gomi won the fight by unanimous decision, with Gomi on top of Silva pounding away unrelentingly for the majority of the bout.

In August, PRIDE announced that in the month September they would be hosting an eight man lightweight tournament. The first round set up Takanori Gomi with fellow Japanese fighter and current Shooto World Welterweight Champion Tatsuya Kawajiri. This fight was billed "the battle of the twenty first century boys" in Japan due to the popularity and world-class match up of the two fighters. Many MMA critics had Gomi ranked number one and Kawajiri number two in the lightweight division. Gomi submitted Kawajiri in the first round with a rear naked choke. Gomi then had to fight again later that night in the semifinals against a former foe Luiz Azeredo. Gomi won via unanimous decision making him a finalist in the 2005 Lightweight Grand Prix.

Gomi met the other finalist, Hayato Sakurai, at PRIDE Shockwave 2005. Sakurai and Gomi were teammates at the official Shooto gym back in the late 90s. Sakurai defeated Jens Pulver and Joachim Hansen to fight in the finals. After some exchanges on their feet, Sakurai tried to take Gomi down with a hip toss, but on the way down, Gomi ended up on top in the mount. "The Fireball Kid" began to rain down punches and after taking a lot of shots Sakurai twisted to escape, giving his back to Gomi. Finally Sakurai escaped and both fighters were on their feet, but the punches had taken their toll on Sakurai. Gomi threw a right hand and then followed up with a left-right combination. The last right-hook caught Sakurai on the chin, knocking him out cold 3:56 of the first round. Gomi was crowned the PRIDE 2005 Lightweight Grand Prix Champion.

Gomi then made his 2006 debut at PRIDE Bushido 10. Before the event, DSE announced that Gomi would be crowned the PRIDE World Lightweight Champion due to winning the PRIDE 2005 Lightweight Grand Prix, although the upcoming Bushido 10 fight would not be a title match. He then faced Marcus Aurelio of American Top Team later that night. Aurelio choked out Gomi within the first round with an arm triangle. This match up was a huge upset and put a lot of doubt within Gomiís ability to fight off of his back. Although Aurelio won the match, it was a non-title bout, with Takanori Gomi remaining the PRIDE World Lightweight Champion. Gomi said he took the match too easily and that this loss was the best thing for him to refocus and become a better fighter.

After a few months off while building his Rascal Gym, Gomi made his return to the PRIDE ring at PRIDE Bushido 12 against 10-1 French fighter David Baron. Baron seemed willing to trade with Gomi and managed to slip some punches. But eventually Gomi caught up with him and knocked the Frenchman down and mixing up punches to the head and body. Baron missed a takedown attempt, allowing the PRIDE champion to get around his back and slam Baron to the ground. Baron rolled in an attempt to shake off his Japanese opponent, but Gomi held on, sinking in a rear naked choke. Baron defended the choke as long as he could, but eventually Gomi completed the technique, forcing Barron to tap at the 7:10 mark of the first. Baron had previously won a tournament in Europe for the right to face Gomi.

Gomi rematched Aurelio at PRIDE Bushido 13, November 5, 2006. This time the PRIDE World Lightweight Championship was on the line. Both fighters were extremely cautious, and many times the referee could be heard calling for more action during the bout. Aurelioís jab was effective and hit the champion a couple times. Gomi, often switching his stance, replied with strikes of his own and landed good leg kicks. Several times the American Top Team fighter ended up on his back after failed takedown attempts. Rather than follow him down, Gomi just kicked Aurelioís legs until the referee would stand the action back up.

Aurelio scored a clean takedown at the end of the first. Aurelio attempted another takedown in the second, only to see the "Fireball Kid" counter with a kimura. Gomi showed shades of his past catch-wrestling accolades when he countered another Aurelio takedown attempt with a half-nelson. He did not follow Aurelio to the ground, instead attacking his legs with kicks. Gomi refused to follow Aurelio to the ground despite his opponent's taunting. Gomi knocked down Aurelio with a body shot late in the last round, and the bout ended with Gomi connecting with a hard kick to Aurelio's body just before the final bell. The fight went to the judges and Gomi retained his title, walking away with the split-decision. Many critics were surprised at the one judge giving Aurelio the win due to the fact that Gomi countered most of Marcus' offensive effectively and knocked down Aurelio twice.

Gomi's most recent win was an impressive first round knockout of Mitsuhiro Ishida at PRIDE Shockwave 2006. Less than a minute into the fight, he countered a right leg kick from Ishida with a straight left hand that knocked him down. Gomi immediately went in for the finish, stopping him with a series of hammer fists.

Gomi is next scheduled to fight former-UFC Fighter Nick Diaz(14-6-0) at PRIDE FC's next event PRIDE 33, though Gomi's Championship is not going to be defended. Gomi has lost to Nick Diaz by submission.

MMA Record: 32-7-0

UFC History:

 

- From wikipedia.org

Official Website: www.t-gomi.com

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