Takanori Gomi for a time ran parallel to B.J. Penn in the race to be considered the sport’s premiere lightweight, and while Penn’s submission of “The Fireball Kid” ended the discussion with brutal clarity in 2003, the Japanese superstar nevertheless managed to chisel out quite a legacy for himself.
A former Shooto and Pride Fighting Championships titleholder, Gomi debuted as a 20-year-old in 1998, rattled off 14 consecutive victories and ultimately started his career with a remarkable 27-3 mark across his first 30 appearances. Father Time, subpar conditioning and the natural progression of the sport conspired against him during his 30s, as he looked more like a journeyman than contender despite showing glimpses of his past greatness in fleeting moments. Gomi—who has yet to formally retire—has not competed since he knocked out Melvin Guillard at Rizin Fighting Federation 11 a little less than two years ago.
With Gomi’s MMA journey nearing its conclusion, here are some of the numbers that have come to define him:
41: Years of age. Gomi was born on Sept. 22, 1978 in Kanagawa, Japan.
14: Wins by knockout or technical knockout, accounting for close to 40 percent of Gomi’s career total. His list of victims includes Dokonjonosuke Mishima, Duane Ludwig and Tyson Griffin.
1: Victory over a former Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder. Gomi knocked out Jens Pulver 6:21 into their New Year’s Eve encounter at Pride Shockwave 2004.
15: First-round finishes to Gomi’s credit, five of them by submission.
6: Seconds needed to put away Ralph Gracie with knee strikes at Pride Bushido 3 on May 23, 2004. It remains the fastest finish of Gomi’s 42-fight career.
12: Welterweight champions in Shooto history, and Gomi is one of them. He captured the promotion’s 154-pound title with a unanimous decision over Rumina Sato in December 2001, retained it with his technical knockout of Mishima a year later and surrendered it in a majority decision loss to Joachim Hansen on Aug. 10, 2003.
8: Submission losses on Gomi’s ledger. Always vulnerable on the ground, he has fallen to rear-naked chokes from Penn, Kenny Florian and Jon Tuck, an arm-triangle choke from Marcus Aurelio, an Achilles lock for Satoru Kitaoka, a guillotine choke from Clay Guida, an armbar from Nate Diaz and a triangle choke from Yusuke Yachi.
8: Organizations in which Gomi has competed as a professional mixed martial artist. They are the UFC, Shooto, SuperBrawl, Vale Tudo Japan, Rumble on the Rock, Pride, Sengoku and Rizin.
3: Post-fight bonuses won during Gomi’s forgettable stay in the UFC. He was awarded “Fight of the Night” twice and “Knockout of the Night” once, resulting in $130,000 of additional income. Gomi went 4-9 in 13 appearances inside the Octagon.
1,554: Days between victories during the longest drought of Gomi’s career. He took a unanimous decision from Isaac Vallie-Flagg at UFC 172 on April 26, 2014, lost his next six fights—all of them were first-round finishes—and did not win again until he wiped out Guillard on July 28, 2018.