Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight scrappers Takanori Gomi and Dong Hyun Kim will face off this Friday (Sept. 22, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 117 inside Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
The last couple years of Gomi’s career have been difficult to watch. In 2012, he rebounded from a string of ugly losses to actually win four fights in a row — well, four fights if the judges scored his bout with Diego Sanchez competently — but since then he’s fallen into another slump. Meanwhile, little Dong Hyun Kim scored his first UFC win in three attempts in Dec. 2016. This is the most high profile fight of his career, and it will very likely become his biggest win as well.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 35-9 (1)
Key Wins: Issac Vallie-Flagg (UFC 172), Tyson Griffin (UFC on Versus 2), Jens Pulver (Pride Shockwave 2004)
Key Losses: Myles Jury (UFC Fight Night 52), Joe Lauzon (UFC on FOX 16), Jim Miller (UFC 200), Jon Tuck (UFC Fight Night 111)
Keys to Victory: Gomi once was the best Lightweight on the planet, putting Lightweights on their back with fastball punches, body work and quality wrestling. He’s lost much of the speed that once made him dangerous and is increasingly fragile, but Gomi still packs a punch.
To win this or any other bout in 2017, Gomi pretty much has to land a massive punch and knockout his foe.
Luckily, Gomi has been given a decent opponent to attempt to smash. Kim is tough and durable, but he’s also remarkably hittable, and Gomi cracks heavier than most by a fair amount. To land the kill shot, Gomi would be best advised to go back to his body work, which will also help him avoid any takedowns. Kim likes to brawl, so if Gomi can circle away and try to get his opponent chasing, there’s a chance he can line up his right hand.
Dong Hyun Kim
Key Wins: Brendan O’Reilly (TUF 24 Finale), Jung Min Kang (Top FC 8)
Key Losses: Polo Reyes (UFC 199), Dominique Steele (UFC Fight Night 79)
Keys to Victory: Kim very much likes to brawl. He’s not especially good at it from a technical stand point — Kim stands tall with his head still while trading blows — but he’s nevertheless tough and powerful enough to be a threat. Needing a win in his last bout, Kim relied on his Judo background to ground out his opponent.
In this bout, Kim should attempt to pressure Gomi until the takedown opening arises. At this point, Gomi doesn’t do all that well eating shots, defending takedowns, or stopping the ensuing choke. Kim should keep his left hand high to block the whipping hook of his opponent, but otherwise Kim just needs to go after Gomi and try to hit him clean or land a takedown.
Judging by Gomi’s previous four fights — which lasted a bit less than eight minutes combined — that’s about all it takes to end Gomi’s night.
Bottom Line: It may be the end of a long road for Gomi.
Retirement was looking like a strong option to consider ahead of this fight, so another loss only reinforces that choice for Gomi. He’s been completely dominated in each of his last four fights. The UFC isn’t going to give him another fight if he comes up short, and while Japan loves him enough to watch him on regional shows, it’s hard to tell if Gomi has the desire to keep competing.
At the same time, a knockout win does buy him at least one more bout... or a great victory to retire upon.
As for Kim, he’s still fighting for his career. His brawl with Reyes earned him some goodwill with UFC, but he’s still been fighting the lowest tier of the 155-pound division. If he comes up short to Gomi — who’s a solid 10 years past his prime — it’s a clear sign that he isn’t cut out for this level of competition yet. Alternatively, defeating Gomi makes it two in a row at Lightweight, giving him a nice base to build from.
At UFC Fight Night 117, Takanori Gomi and Dong Hyun Kim will square off. Which fighter will remain standing when the dust settles?