Takanori Gomi’s free fall from having once been considered the top lightweight fighter in the world continued during Sengoku’s “Seventh Battle” on Saturday in Saitama, Japan at the Saitama Super Arena.
Despite having lost to Sergey Golyaev via split decision during Sengoku’s “Sixth Battle” in November, Gomi was given an opportunity to face the promotion’s lightweight Grand Prix winner, Satoru Kitaoka, in a bout to determine Sengoku’s first-ever lightweight champion.
Gomi’s fight vs. Kitaoka lasted all of one minute and 41 seconds after the former PRIDE lightweight champion was forced to submit to an Achilles lock. The result left him with just two victories in his last three fights, hardly credentials worthy of elite-level competitor status.
Gomi’s fall from grace began in February of 2007 at PRIDE 33 when he was submitted in the second round by Nick Diaz courtesy of a gogoplata. The result was later ruled a no contest by the Nevada State Athletic Commission after Diaz had tested for abnormally high levels of THC. However, millions of fight fans witnessed Gomi being dominated in the standup aspect of the fight after he had been pushed by PRIDE as the best lightweight striker in the world.
He rebounded with a first round TKO (due to cut) victory over Duane Ludwig during Sengoku’s first-ever event this past March but followed it up with an uninspiring unanimous decision victory over Seung Hwan Bang during Sengoku’s “Fourth Battle.” The performance sparked many pundits to question whether Gomi should still be regarded as a top rated lightweight. Gomi only provided his critics with additional ammunition following his consecutive losses to Golyaev and Kitaoka.
A former welterweight champion in Shooto, Gomi rose to prominence in PRIDE with notable victories over Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett, former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver, Marcus Aurelio, Ralph Gracie, and current DREAM standouts Mitsuhiro Ishida and Tatsuya Kawajiri.
Gomi actually began his PRIDE career with a perfect 10-0 record before losing to Aurelio via first round submission in April of 2006 at Bushido 10. He would later avenge the loss to Aurelio and improved his PRIDE record to 13-1 before losing to Diaz at PRIDE 33.
With the win, Kitaoka improved his record to 24-8 and is now recognized as both Sengoku’s first-ever lightweight Grand Prix winner and lightweight champion. He presently holds notable wins over his career against Gomi, Paul Daley, Kurt Pellegrino, current WEC welterweight champion Carlos Condit, Eiji Mitsuoka, Clay French and Hidehiko Hasegawa.
Kitaoka is now 10-1 in his last eleven fights, which is quite a dramatic turnaround for a fighter who began his career with just one victory in his first six bouts.