There was a time when Takanori Gomi was widely considered the best lightweight mixed martial artist on Earth. However, since his upset loss to Sergey Golyaev in November of 2008 the Fireball Kid has amassed a mere 4-5 record and in the process tumbled out of the lightweight rankings.
His UFC career has been a mixed bag thus far, but he's coming off a win in his last fight against Eiji Mitsuoka and looking to make it two in a row when he faces Mac Danzig on tomorrow's UFC on FUEL TV 6 card emanating from the Cotai Arena in Macao, China.
Gomi recently spoke with Japanese outlet MMAPlanet.jp about the approach he is taking for the Danzig fight and what he has learned from his tenure in the UFC.
"I can't win if I try to imitate tactical fighters," Gomi explained. "If you aren't taking the fight to your opponent, how can you expect to win? That's how the old me used to fight." (These and all subsequent quotes are my translation from the original Japanese).
"If I go after my opponent in an attempt to take him out and he takes me out instead, then that's just how it goes sometimes," Gomi continued, "and I'm OK with that. Either way somebody is going down. I think it's important to have that mindset."
Not that Gomi is strictly relying on his warrior spirit alone. He has taken advantage of the nine month layoff since his last fight to work diligently on wrestling and conditioning in order to help him better contend with the bigger, stronger competition in the UFC.
"Non-Japanese fighters are really physically strong so I've been trying to improve my physical game," Gomi explained. "I've been working hard on my wrestling, conditioning, and getting ready for whatever my opponent might throw at me. That way I'll be prepared for any bad situations in the fight and able to recover from them."
One thing Gomi hasn't done to prepare for this fight is watch a lot of tape on Danzig.
"These days everything is so convenient and it's easy to get your hands on a lot of footage of your opponent's past fights," said Gomi. "For me this is a negative though. If I watch a lot of his fights then every night starts to feel like the night before the fight.
"If I gear my practice towards an opponent, I'll be thrown off if he does something slightly different in the fight. I feel like this has happened to me a lot in the past. Also, the more time I spend game planning for someone else the less time I have to work on my own game. That's why I think it's important for a fighter to be strong enough to not worry about what his opponent will do and just concentrate on himself."
At 34 years old Gomi knows time is ticking on his storied career. He's determined to make sure he goes out with a bang rather than a whimper.
"I don't want to lose. I need to make sure there's no room for doubt that I'm the winner of this fight, " Gomi reflected. "That's why I'm heading into it with my mind and body in the best possible place.
"Nowadays wrestling and boxing are very popular amongst fighters. I knew this going into my past fights. Fighters with the most experience in these disciplines usually win. All I can do is do what I do best."
As for what Gomi does best, he feels it leaves his opponents unable to forget him when he can pull it off.
"When you knock somebody out you make them think, 'I never want to fight that guy again.'"
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