Two veteran lightweights duked it out yesterday (Nov. 10, 2012) as former Pride 155 pound champion Takanori Gomi battled The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season six winner Mac Danzig on the main card of UFC Macau in Macau, China.
Gomi entered the fight with just a 2-3 UFC record and had not looked particularly impressive in any of his recent fights.
That changed yesterday.
With many fans and writers (including yours truly) writing "The Fireball Kid" off, he showed up to the event as a rededicated and motivated Takanori Gomi and the results speak for themselves.
Early on in the fight, Gomi was fighting completely different than in his prior UFC bouts. No longer was he simply headhunting with wild hooks. This was a much more measured and technical fighter.
Gomi stayed in the cage center, pushing forward gradually, staying at distance to remain safe from Danzig's attacks while flashing a surprisingly quick jab. He also mixed things up by throwing repeated leg kicks.
This flustered Danzig and opened up the door for Gomi to start opening up with power strikes. Danzig tried to counter by throwing quick combinations and shooting in for takedowns, but the damage he was dealing wasn't making up for Gomi's strikes.
"The Fireball Kid" continued to mix up his attack with occasional takedowns and trips as well, and he wasn't done once he got the fight to the ground, actually looking to pass guard and attack with a submission or two while mixing in ground and pound.
Danzig continued to try to fight back with combinations, actually putting Gomi on his back a couple times with takedowns, but this wasn't the same Gomi that allowed opponents to slice through his guard and submit him. He was much stronger on the canvas and avoiding danger. Gomi finished the fun fight by dropping Danzig in the third round and both men threw down in the final minute, earning "Fight of the Night" honors in the process, as Gomi would go on to win a unanimous decision.
For Mac Danzig, he got completely caught off guard by the improvements in Gomi's game. He occasionally found success when he was aggressive with combinations but those instances were few and far between. While some didn't think Danzig had the offensive wrestling to take the fight to the ground, he actually put Gomi on his back a couple times. This was by far his most effective offense and he should have stuck with it because Gomi was flustering him on the feet. Danzig did not keep working for takedowns and that's one of the key reasons he lost this fight.
If Danzig keeps his job, he'll likely face a fellow lightweight who's been inconsistent as of late. Potential future opponents include Evan Dunham, Terry Etim or perhaps Anthony Njokuani.
For Takanori Gomi, this was as big of an improvement as he's made since joining the UFC. Gone was the gassing, headhunting, sloppy fighter who got submitted quickly once the fight went to the ground. This was a more technical, better conditioned, smarter and extremely more unpredictable and dangerous fighter. Thank god. The Takanori Gomi that showed up last night could hang with the top 20 in the world. He looked very sharp. Whatever it was that motivated him, whether it was lousy previous performances against Eiji Mitzuoka and Nate Diaz, we should all be very thankful. This was a flash of the fighter that had the legendary runs in Pride. It's good to know he still exists.
Potential next opponents for Gomi include the Ross Pearson vs. George Sotiropoulos winner, Jim Miller or perhaps Jacob Volkmann.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you impressed by this new and improved Takanori Gomi yesterday? If he continues to fight like this, where would he stack up in the UFC lightweight division?
For complete UFC Macau results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here, here and here.