Monday, June 29, 2009

The Fireball Kid is Coming... Maybe

During the media circuit following his win at Ultimate Chaos on the weekend, Affliction head honcho Tom Atencio discussed the inclusion of Japanese star Takanori Gomi on the upcoming Affliction: Trilogy card with MMA Weekly:

MMAWeekly: Any word about Gomi? Any progress with him coming to Affliction?

Atencio: Yeah, we’re still working on it, we’re finalizing everything, but it looks like it’s gonna go through. I’m not 100-percent yet, but we’re still working on it for sure.

Though not yet concrete, the inclusion of "The Fireball Kid" on the Trilogy card is an interesting development, as it comes at a time when Gomi is trying to work his way back to the top of the lightweight ranks that he dominated for so long.

At one point not all that long ago, Gomi was considered the best 155 pound fighter on the planet. He dominated Shooto, emassing a 14-0 record before suffering defeats to Joachim "Hellboy" Hansen and B.J. Penn.

Following the Rumble on the Rock loss to Penn, Gomi moved to Pride, starring in the Bushido series that showcased lower weight class, and resumed his winning ways. In his nearly four years fighting under the Pride banner, Gomi lost just twice, including a submission defeat to Nick Diaz that was later ruled a no contest when Diaz tested positive for THC.

Since then, two wins with World Victory Road at Sengoku 1 and Sengoku 4 are paired with two losses, though one, a split decision loss to Sergey Golyaev, was a controversial judgment.

Which brings us to the possibility of joining the Affliction card and the back and forth taking place in my head about the relative excitement of this announcement.

Had this been two or three years ago, when Gomi was using his ambidextrous striking ability to level opponents left, right and center, I would have been jumping up and down and ordering my first Affliction pay-per-view. But his recent performances have been somewhat uneven and while the decision loss to Golyaev may have been suspect, sometimes that is what happens when you leave it up to the judges.

That is the fan side of me. The overall MMA enthusiast and advocate thinks this is terrific for the sport as a whole. Anytime that you can bring an international star into a new market and further expose the sport and the incredible talents that operate outside of North America, you're doing something positive in my books.

My final judgment will be reserved for a later date, once the signing is official and an opponent has been named.

But as it stands now, I'm excited and you should be too.

The Fireball Kid is coming... maybe.

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