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Takanori Gomi returns for RIZIN 26 on Dec. 31 in Japan — ‘Now he’s just Saggyball Pops’

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UFC Fight Night: Gomi v Kim Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Former PRIDE lightweight champion Takanori Gomi makes his return to combat sports on New Year’s Eve for a special exhibition bout opposite kickboxing standout Koji “Kouzi” Tanaka, part of the RIZIN 26 event inside Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

“I’d like to show the best I could do as a fighter in my 40’s,” Gomi said in today’s release (via Drake Riggs). “I’ll try not to get in the way of the young kids trying to do their thing but I think it’ll be a good workout. I don’t even know who this kid is, I don’t follow such a terrible sport. There’s going to be a weight difference so I’m okay with this kid wearing headgear and smaller gloves. I have always been interested in boxing, so I’m kind of excited.”

After the dissolution of PRIDE, Gomi (36-15, 1 NC) bounced around the international circuit before coming to terms with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) back in early 2010. What followed was a disastrous 4-9 record that ended with five straight losses.

“It took long to get this confirmed but I think this will be a fun fight,” Tanaka said about fighting the Japanese icon. “Gomi was a great fighter. He used to be ‘The Fireball Kid,’ but now he’s just Saggyball Pops.”

Gomi vs. Tanaka will take place across three rounds with no official decision.

RIZIN 26 is headlined by the bantamweight showdown between Kai Asakura and Kyoji Horiguchi. Elsewhere on the card, Yaka Hamasaki battles Miyuu Yamamoto at super atomweight, while Ren Hiramoto and Kyohei Hagiwara hook ‘em up at a catchweight of 149 pounds.