Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight veterans Joe Lauzon and Takanori Gomi battled last night (July 25, 2015) at UFC on FOX 16 inside United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
Coming off a disappointing loss to Al Iaquinta, Lauzon really needed a win to prove his relevance. As usual, Lauzon looked to force his opponent to the mat and deal with his vaunted submission game.
In a surprising turn of events, Gomi actually looked pretty decent in the last couple years and brought back some core elements of his prime game that he'd been neglecting. It wasn't enough to get past a legitimate Top 10-ranked fighter in Myles Jury, but Gomi had an opportunity to prove he was a solid mid-tier fighter by defeating Lauzon.
Instead, Lauzon showed there's still plenty left in the tank.
Gomi opened the fight with plenty of quick punches, including a few digging hooks to the body. Gomi appeared to be the faster man, but Lauzon changed things up by ducking down after landing a hook and latching onto a single leg takedown.
The Japanese veteran initially defended the shot by scrambling away, but Lauzon simply took a leap into back mount. Then, he used a leg lock to control Gomi and prevent him from scrambling, continuing to lock in the back mount.
Once Lauzon flattened his opponent out, the fight was over. Oddly enough, Lauzon thought so too, as he simply stood up after hammering "Fireball Kid" with some heavy punches. Referee Herb Dean had not yet called the fight and gave Gomi a chance to stand back up, but he ended up agreeing with Lauzon and called the fight when Gomi's slow reactions showed just how hurt he was.
While calling the fight himself was a very risky move, it certainly earned Lauzon some style points in one of his few technical knockout wins. As usual, Lauzon's aggression and talent on the ground made his victory entertaining.
Outside of the slick single leg, this wasn't anything new for Lauzon. On his feet, his offense was strong, but he's still easy to hit on the feet. Once on the mat, Lauzon's jiu-jitsu remains violent and sharp.
In short, he appears to be the same fighter that he's been the last couple years.
That means Lauzon should continue to receive match ups with other lightweights in the middle of the division. If he's placed against someone lower -- such as Gomi -- the fight won't be competitive, and elite lightweights will put a pounding on the Boston-native.
Instead, a rematch with fellow UFC on FOX 16 winner Jim Miller would certainly be an excellent fight once again.
Frankly, Gomi looked really good for the first minute or so. His hands were fast, he was moving in-and-out, and Gomi was working the body well. That's everything Gomi fans can hope for at this stage in his career.
Unfortunately, Gomi's jiu-jitsu is still not his best aspect, and no amount of late career improvement would put him on Lauzon's level on the mat.
At this point, Gomi probably deserves a slight step back in competition, either against green fighters or older veterans. For example, a battle with Drew Dober could work.
Last night, Joe Lauzon made quick work of his opponent on the mat. Where does the submission ace head from here?
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