It was not long ago that Takanori Gomi was the most feared lightweight in the world. His days in Pride Fighting Championship were among some of the best, and he scored some of the most brutal lightweight knockouts in history.

His knockouts of Hayato Sakurai, Jens Pulver and Ralph Gracie were moments of disastrous beauty. Combine that with the fact that Gomi was the lightweight champion of Pride, and you have yourself one of the biggest stars in lightweight history.

Fast forward to the present day. Gomi arrived to the UFC in 2010 with much hype around him and plenty of fanfare from hardcore Pride fans. What ensued was nothing short of a disappointment.

Gomi headlined his first UFC event and was dominated by Kenny Florian. He would come back with a classic knockout performance of Tyson Griffin in his next outing, but would succumb to defeat twice in a row to Nate Diaz and Clay Guida to run his record to 1-3 in the world’s largest MMA promotion.

Luckily for Gomi, his last two fights have gone well. The Japanese legend knocked out fellow countryman Eiji Mitsuoka on home soil, before earning a hard fought decision win over Mac Danzig. These two fights, while important, are an illusion of success in a UFC career that has only been a letdown to loyal Gomi fans.

Most fighters who go 1-3 in the UFC would have been cut immediately. Since Gomi is a huge name in MMA and a draw in Japan, he was likely given a pass for some shabby performances. That is fine, as the UFC is a company that thrives on fighters that draw money.

What’s more troubling, however, is that Gomi has failed to post a three-fight winning streak—a streak he is shooting for against Diego Sanchez this weekend—since 2006. Gomi’s slow but sure fade at the tail end of his career may have gone unnoticed by the common eye, but it is obvious when looked at more closely.

Let’s be honest. After all this evidence, it’s hard to deny that Gomi is sticking around due to his name value alone. He failed to get the job done against the top dogs of the division so far and has thrived on lower mid-card fighters.

Of course, Gomi is a great ambassador of the sport in Japan, so he may stick around to continue attracting the Japanese market. However, we all know that this is the main reason he has a roster spot and a job with the UFC.

If he can get past Sanchez and get that three-fight winning streak, a little faith will be restored in the legendary striker. However, he will need to prove himself in a big way this weekend.

Photo: Takanori Gomi (Heavy MMA)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.

  • Piercing, superb editorial Riley. I’m jealous because I can never keep them so concise. Awesome work.