Wednesday, February 21, 2007


By Ricardo Mendoza

Pride Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi will make his long awaited Pride U.S. debut on Saturday night when he takes on UFC veteran Nick Diaz, who moves down to lightweight in the biggest fight of his career.

Although Gomi went 3-1 in 2006, it wasn’t the greatest year for the first Pride Lightweight Champion. Regarded as the best lightweight in the world, Gomi now makes his way to Las Vegas in order to prove to the American audience that he indeed can back up his status as the best lightweight in the world. Gomi had a horrible start to 2006 after having a banner year culminating at Pride Shockwave 2005 where he won the Pride Lightweight Grand Prix by knocking out fellow card mate Hayato “Mach” Sakurai. Now Gomi looks to put 2006 behind him and start 2007 out with a bang by notching a victory over an established UFC veteran Nick Diaz.

Takanori Gomi has a 27-3 record in MMA and trains out of Team RASCAL with Nobuhiro Obiya.

Gomi is the #1 lightweight in the MMAWeekly Rankings. He is coming off a devastating knockout of Mitsuhiro Ishida at Pride Shockwave 2006. Ishida looked to stand with Gomi and that was the beginning of his downfall. Gomi landed a huge punch that dropped Ishida, Ishida scrambled hard to get a takedown and recover but Gomi was relentless, finishing him off with strikes a little over a minute in the first round of their non-title bout.

Gomi was coming off a lackluster defense of his Pride Lightweight Championship at Pride Bushido 13 against the man who defeated him to begin 2006, Marcus Aurelio. In what was easily Gomi’s worst performance from an entertainment aspect in Pride, he barley outworked Aurelio to take home a split decision in a boring fight.

At Pride Bushido 12, Gomi submitted largely unknown French lightweight David Baron. Gomi outworked Baron on the feet with crisper punches and nice body shots. Once the fight hit the ground Gomi was able to secure a rear naked choke to get a much-needed win after losing for the first time in Pride.

Marcus Aurelio upset Gomi at Pride Bushido 10 in his first fight as Pride Lightweight Champion. A non-title fight, Gomi looked to be unprepared and not in his best fighting shape. Aurelio got the fight on the ground and was able to finish Gomi with a side choke in the first round.

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