Takanori Gomi – The Fireball Kid, My all-time favorite MMA LW

Congrats on your win at UFC 144 in Japan – Now, a trip down memory lane when you were the dominate Light Weight in Shooto and Pride …

Takanori Gomi TKO2 Dokonjonosuke Mishima (Shooto: Year End Show 2002, Dec. 14, 2002)

Takanori Gomi, standing, showed his power-punching abilities against Dokonjonos

A slept-on fight pitted Gomi, the undefeated heir apparent to Uno and Sato, against eccentric grappler Dokonjonosuke Mishima. Gomi, Shooto champion after out-pointing Sato (his third try at winning the 154-pound title), faced his first defense of the belt — and what a test it was. Gomi’s mode for victory early in his career was control. But against Mishima, he showed flashes of the heavy-fisted brawler who would go on to become Pride champion and No. 1 ranked lightweight in MMA.

Mishima put Gomi on the canvas and landed a series of strong punches to earn the first round. But at the start of Round 2, Gomi countered a wild punch with a perfect left hook that dropped the challenger. Shooto’s rules included standing eight counts and breaks on knockdowns. Gomi was in destroy mode. When Mishima stood, “The Fireball Kid” swarmed, scoring with punches and knees leading to Mishima nearly being driven out of the ring.

In his next title defense, Gomi ceded the belt to Joachim Hansen, prompting a trip to Hawaii to fight B.J. Penn.

Japanese MMA was on the rise in 2005, and K-1 stepped in the game with their own brand of the sport labeled “Hero’s.” That first card was mashup of kickboxing, MMA and the Bob Sapp circus. Hansen and Uno, both former Shooto champions, put on a war that, even if it had not ended by spectacular knockout, would be among the best fights the division has put together.

This bout had it all, especially when it came to grappling, and was extremely competitive until the end, when “Hellboy” Hansen slammed his knee into Uno’s jaw. The cold knockout was brutal and capped what was arguably the best display of mixed martial arts in 2005.

Takanori Gomi SUB1 Tatsuya Kawajiri (Pride: Bushido 9, Sept. 25, 2005)

Tatsuya Kawajiri had no answer for Takanori Gomi's power.

If you were a top lightweight in MMA, the Pride Bushido 9 tournament was where you wanted to be in 2005. The three-round event, which featured quarterfinals and semifinals on the same night, brought some of Japan’s best against the likes of Yves Edwards and Jens Pulver. The highlight of the night, without question, was the quarterfinal bout between Gomi and Kawajiri.

Gomi was on a seven-fight roll, all under the Pride banner, while Kawajiri, then the Shooto champion, hadn’t dropped a bout in his last nine. This was the big one among Japanese MMA circles in the lightweight division, and it did not disappoint.

All action from the start, Gomi made Kawajiri feel his power early, and chopped away at “The Crusher” throughout the 10-minute opening round. “The Fireball Kid,” in perhaps his finest performance, finished in high style. Body shots led to combinations to the head, and though Kawajiri was game, he simply had no answer.

Original Source: http://espn.go.com/blog/mma/tag/_/name/takanori-gomi