Gomi Tastes Defeat, Henderson Victorious

Gomi Tastes Defeat, Henderson Victorious

By Jason Nowe Apr 3, 2006
TOKYO, April 2 — The world lightweight scene got turned on its head Sunday night when American Top Team fighter Marcus Aurelio did the unthinkable: defeat the “Fireball Kid” Takanori Gomi (Pictures).

Gomi had been on a nearly unprecedented roll, going 10-0 in the PRIDE ring, with only two of those victories coming by way of decision. Truly the former SHOOTO champion had broken away from every other lightweight in the world and was seemingly perched on a pedestal of no one could touch.

Aurelio, who since his loss to Dokojonosuke Mishima had two victories in Bushido, both coming from decision, was not given much of a chance against the red-hot Gomi. During the press conference prior to the event Aurelio stated that his whole life had lead up to this bout and that by the end of it Gomi was going to know that he was in a fight.

The match-up started with both fighters coming out cautiously after the opening bell. After throwing some initial strikes, Gomi lined the Brazilian up for a punch combination. From here, with absolutely flawless timing, Aurelio scored a textbook double-leg takedown, landing into half-guard.

Once on the ground, Aurelio never looked back. After throwing some strikes from the guard, Aurelio passed to take side and looked for the arm-triangle. Gomi attempted to bridge out of the position, only to have the Brazilian jump across to the other side of his body and clamp down on the technique.

The referee could see that he lightweight champion was fading fast and upon seeing Gomi’s hand fall to the floor while checking his consciousness, the match was called at the 4:34 mark.

Unfortunately for Aurelio this was not a title fight. But this victory firmly places him in the lightweight title hunt along with Joachim Hansen (Pictures), Hayato Sakurai (Pictures), Jens Pulver (Pictures) and Tatsuya Kawajiri (Pictures).

In his post-fight interview, Aurelio said that Gomi didn’t intimidate him at all and his plan was to use jiu-jitsu to defeat the lightweight champion. Aurelio further stated that injury kept him out of the Lightweight GP, but if he had been involved, he was certain that he would have made it to the finals with Gomi and the results would have been the same as this night.

It’s seems high-level jiu-jitsu fighters are poison to the Fireball Kid. While Gomi’s striking and wrestling are on levels all their own, his ground game is perhaps his Achilles heel. Back-to-back losses against well renowned jiu-jitsu fighter B.J. Penn (Pictures) and ground savvy Joachim Hansen (Pictures) attests to this. Now Aurelio can be added to this list.

In his post-fight interview, Gomi was apologetic to his fans. He stated that his body couldn’t follow his will and that recently he couldn’t push himself in training. He further stated that he has become tired with it all and needs to take a break to get his motivation back. The lightweight champion told the reporters that he would be back, but he just wasn’t sure when.

PRIDE welterweight (183-pounds) champion Dan Henderson (Pictures)’s bout with GRABAKA’s Kazuo Misaki (Pictures) turned out to be a real slobber knocker. Henderson counterpunched effectively in the first, but it was Misaki who managed to take the fight down to side-control. But he wasn’t able to capitalize on the position.

After being stood up by the referee, Henderson land a big punch that sent Misaki to the mat. For a few seconds things didn’t look good for Misaki, but the GRABAKA fighter managed to weather the storm while on his back, even going for an ankle lock once he regained his bearings. Eventually he returned to top position.

The second round saw the stand-up battle continue. Misaki constantly circled, making sure not to get trapped in a corner by his dangerous opponent. Despite breathing heavily in the final round, Henderson was game to keep the fight standing and trade punches.

This was a pretty even fight throughout. It almost reminded me of the Henderson-Bustamante rematch in terms of closeness. When it was all said and done it was Henderson who walked away with the unanimous decision.

Phil Baroni (Pictures) seems to be becoming the knockout king of the PRIDE Bushido ring. The first of the four Bushido aces to fall victim to the American was Ikuhisa Minowa (Pictures). Next to taste the leather was Ryo Chonan (Pictures). Now Pancrase legend Yuki Kondo (Pictures) can be added to that list.

Right from the opening bell Baroni came out swinging. Kondo tried to duck and move to avoid shots, but you can only do this for so long until eventually you’re going to eat one. Unfortunately for Kondo, the one he ate was a hard right hand to the jaw after a left hand to the body.

This was a clean hit; Kondo had his hands down after the left and Baroni caught him square on the button with the right. The Japanese Pancrase champion went down upon impact and Baroni followed up with some punches before the referee raced in to stop the bout at the 25-second mark of the first.

This victory should no doubt cement Baroni a spot in the upcoming Welterweight Grand Prix. As for Kondo, well, what can you say? With this loss Kondo’s record now drops to 1-5 in PRIDE (mind you, it should be 2-4 — that decision loss against Kazuhiro Nakamura (Pictures) was an absolute robbery), but his losses all came against top guys, such as Henderson and Silva. It’s hard to say if Kondo’s future lies with PRIDE.
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