Takanori Gomi earned the nickname "The Fireball Kid" during his heyday for the thunderous slugfests which made him one of the world's most popular MMA fighters.
The former PRIDE lightweight champion has lost a step or two, but the fire is still there. With the raucous Baltimore Arena crowd behind him, Gomi outlasted Isaac Vallie-Flagg in a back-and-forth slugfest. Gomia won a unanimous decision on across-the-board, 29-28 scores.
A Jackson's MMA fighter, Vallie-Flagg got the best of matters in the opening round, using low kicks to set up his punches and landing the heavier shots.
The lights seemed to turn on for Gomi sometime in the second round, as he slowed Vallie-Flagg down with his heavy hands and turned up the pressure. Both fighters were cut by the end of the round, with Vallie-Flagg's right eye nearly closed.
The fighters went for broke in a close final round, but again, Gomi landed more shots which counted. A furious final minute saw Vallie-Flagg score a takedown, but Gomi reversed position and ended up in top control as the fight came to a conclusion.
The Kanagawa, Japan native improved to 35-9 with one no-contest. If not for a highly controversial split decision loss to Diego Sanchez last year, Gomi would have a four-fight win streak going. Vallie-Flagg (14-5-1) has dropped two in a row.