Introducing the ‘Fireball Kid’

30 03 2010


The king of the Pide ‘Bushido’ series, former Shooto Welterweight Champion, Pride 2005 Lightweight Grand Prix winner, and Pride Lightweight Champion, Takanori Gomi makes his UFC debut this wednesday against Kenny Florian. While I’m super excited to see the UFC debut of the ‘Fireball Kid’ I wish he had been given a warm up match. Instead he’s been thrown into the lion’s den so to speak against ‘Ken Flo’. Gomi, disciplined in freestyle and ‘catch as catch can’ wrestling, began his career in Shooto back in 1997. Shooto is one of the oldest MMA organisations, holding its first pro fights back in 1989. Many of todays top Japanese stars made their name known in Shooto, including World number 2 Lightweight Shinya Aoki, Rumina Sato, Hayato ‘Mach’ Sakurai, Caol Uno and of course Takanori Gomi. Gomi went on to defeat Rumina Sato (check out Rumina Sato’s flying armbar on youtube) by decision for the Lightweight Title in 2001, and held onto that title until 2003 losing to, at the time a relatively unknown Norwegian fighter Joachim Hansen. Hansen obviously went on to become the 2008 Dream Grand Prix Winner and the first Dream Lightweight Champion. That was Gomi’s last fight in Shooto, until returning in 2009. Gomi left Shooto and went on to get choked out in the third round by BJ Penn at Rumble on the Rock 4 in Hawaii, before debuting for Pride in Pride ‘Bushido 2’.

 It was during this time fighting at Pride, that Gomi went on to be recognised as the Number 1 Lightweight fighter in the world, beating the likes of Ralph Gracie, Charles ‘Krazy Horse’ Bennett, Jens Pulver, and then beating Tatsuya Kawajiri, Luiz Azeredo, and the Hayato Sakurai to win the 2005 Lightweight Grand Prix and be named the first and only person to hold the Pride Lightweight Title. Takanori’s last fight in Pride, was against Nick Diaz at Pride 33. Gomi was expected to walkthrough the UFC veteren and current Strikeforce Welterweight Champion. Instead when Gomi took Diaz down, in the second round he landed straight into a picture perfect Gogoplata, and had no choice but to tap out. The Nevada State Athletic Commission later over-turned the win for Diaz into a No Contest, when Marijuana was detected in his pre-fight Drug’s test, even though Diaz has a prescription for Marijuana for his ADHD. Regardless of the outcome, both fighters put on one of the most exciting fights in Pride’s ten years history. Since then Diaz’s career has continually been on the rise, where as Gomi’s has been somewhat up and down.

 After Pride closed its doors in 2007, Gomi went onto fight for World Victory Road’s ‘Sengoku’, beating Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwig at the inaugural event. He fought three more times for the company, but not in very impressive fashion. Winning a decision over unknown fighter Sueng Hwang Bang, and then losing to Sergey Golyaev. After the upset loss to Golyaev, World Victory Road still granted Gomi a shoot at the Lightweight Title against Satoru Kitaoka. Many were hoping that Gomi’s last fight was just a ‘hiccup’ in his career and that he’d rise to his former self and become the first Sengoku Lightweight Champion, instead, he tapped out to an Achilles lock in the first round. After this loss, it seemed that Gomi’s best days were behind him, not even considered a top 10 Lightweight. Gomi then returned to Shooto in 2009 and broke his two fight losing streak beating Takashi Nakakura by K.O. Even though it was a win, Nakakura was a ‘can’ and was presented to Gomi to be an easy fight, to get the former number 1 Lightweight back on the winning track. Gomi’s last fight was last october at the reform of Vale Tudo Japan beating American unknown Tony Hervey. Gomi is 2-2 in his last 4 fights, and while he hasn’t looked like the Gomi of old, he definitely has the talent to get back on top of the world. Getting a UFC contract after his recent performances is somewhat of a ‘God send’, but if he’s to keep hold of that contract, he’s going to have to put on the sort of performances that made him a superstar five years ago. If the old Gomi shows up, expect to see the fight of the night against Kenny Florian, and the re-birth of the ‘Fireball Kid’


UFC 111 Round up

29 03 2010

After a night filled with blog worthy stories, its hard to determine who came out of UFC 111 the most victorious. Even in defeat Dan Hardy may well have won over a lot of casual fans. UFC granted Hardy a title shot against the pound for pound king Georges St-Pierre, not because he was the number 1 contender, but because he would draw great interest from the British media and potentially increase the viewership in the U.K. Hardy was never expected to beat GSP, instead, he would be a ‘can’ that would draw great ratings, and showcase the talents of GSP, thus raising the  French Canadian’s stock. The UFC Hype machine even had me half believing that Hardy might actually be a viable contender to GSP after episode 3 of primetime. While Hardy was completely dominated, he showed great heart by not tapping to St-Pierres Armbar and Kimura attempts, and while that may be enough to win over casual fans, hardcore fans will be pissed that Hardy came into his match with GSP ill-prepared, with no wrestling or takedown defence against the best wrestler in the UFC. Shane Carwin proved he is for real by disposing of Frank Mir in the first round. Carwins now 12-0 in his MMA career, with 12 first round KO’s. With his knockout over Mir, Carwin was awarded his ‘make believe’ (interim) Heavyweight Title and a shot at Brock Lesnar expected to take place this July to unify the Heavyweight Titles. Lesnar says he’s back to full health, and he looked HUGE, stood next to Joe Rogan and Shane Carwin.

Match Winner Loser Method Round Time
1 Matt Riddle Greg Soto DQ (Illegal Upkick) 3 1:30
2 Jared Hamman Rodney Wallace Decision (Unanimous) 3 5:00
3 Rousimar Palhares Tomasz Drwal Submission (Heel Hook) 1 0:45
4 Ricardo Almeida Matt Brown Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) 2 3:30
5 Nate Diaz Rory Markham TKO (Punches) 1 2:47
6 Jim Miller Mark Bocek Decision (Unanimous) 3 5:00
7 Jon Fitch Ben Saunders Decision (Unanimous) 3 5:00
8 Kurt Pellegrino Fabricio Camoes Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) 2 4:20
9 Shane Carwin Frank Mir KO (Punches) 1 3:48
10 Georges St. Pierre Dan Hardy Decision (Unanimous) 5 5:00

MMA Oracle’s Fight Awards

Fight of the night: Kurt Pellegrino vs. Fabricio Camoes

K.O of the night: Shane Carwin

Submission of the night: Rousimar Palhares

Biggest stock rise: Kurt Pellegrino

Can of the night: Dan Hardy

I can’t believe you neck isn’t broken award: Fabricio Camoes

ESPN MMA Live Pick ’em

27 03 2010

You can now follow my fight picks and interact with me on ESPN MMA Live Pick ’em

MMA Oracle @ ESPN MMA Live Pick ’em

MMA Oracle @ ESPN Fan Profiles

The first round begins with UFC 111 St-Pierre vs. Hardy

UFC 111 St-Pierre vs. Hardy

27 03 2010

Fight predictions with the best recommended betting lines, for UFC 111, have now been posted under the ‘Fight Predictions’ page. I’ll also be linking to my ESPN MMA Live Fantasy Picks page, for those that are playing along.

UFC on Versus 1 / Dream 13 round up

23 03 2010

What makes mixed martial arts so exciting is that anything really can, and usually does happen. With that in mind I went 1-2 in my first round of fight predictions for UFC’s first live event on Versus. Gonzaga failed to take down Dos Santos, and Cheick Kongo surprisingly stuck to a great game plan and gave Paul Buentello his walking papers from the UFC. Jon Jones passed with flying colours in his toughest test yet against veteran Brandon Vera with a first round TKO, and helped me save face by at least getting one of my predictions right – I did say they were unreliable! While not in the fight predictions page, I did comment on Dream 13, and just like I said, Josh Barnett beat ‘Mighty Mo’ by first round submission using a modified amrbar, (similar to a kimura) in homage to his ‘catch as catch can’ grappling base. The next event I’ll be offering fight predictions with betting lines, will be for UFC 111 on March 27th which will be headlined by Georges St-Pierre vs Dan Hardy. I’ll have the predictions in the next couple of days along with part 2 of my history of MMA, which will be covering the Gracies, and the birth of Vale Tudo.

Update: According to Brandon Vera’s Manager Matt Stansell, the devastating elbow Jon Jones landed which caused Vera to roll over and signal the end of the fight, fractured Vera’s right cheekbone in three different places. A fracture like this can be very dangerous, especially as it’s right by the eye socket, in which there’s a high chance that fragments of bone can penetrate the eye. A return date for Vera (if ever) is unknown. Meanwhile expect Jon Jones to face the loser of Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson vs Rashad Evans.

Full Weekend Results

UFC on Versus 1

Match Winner Loser Method Round Time
1 Jason Brilz Eric Schafer Decision (Unanimous) 3 5:00
2 Mike Pierce Julio Paulino Decision (Unanimous) 3 5:00
3 Brendan Schaub Chase Gormley TKO (Punches) 1 0:47
4 John Howard Daniel Roberts KO (Punch) 1 2:01
5 Darren Elkins Duane Ludwig TKO (Ankle Injury) 1 0:44
6 Vladimir Matyushenko Eliot Marshall Decision (Split) 3 5:00
7 Clay Guida Shannon Gugerty Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke) 2 3:40
8 Alessio Sakara James Irvin TKO (Punch) 1 3:01
9 Cheick Kongo Paul Buentello Submission (Elbows to the Body) 3 1:16
10 Junior dos Santos Gabriel Gonzaga TKO (Punches) 1 3:53
11 Jon Jones Brandon Vera TKO (Elbows and Punches) 1 3:19

Dream 13

Match Winner Loser Method Round Time
1 Ikuhisa Minowa Jimmy Ambriz Submission (Toe Hold) 2 2:42
2 Katsunori Kikuno Kuniyoshi Hironaka KO (Punch) 1 1:26
3 Cole Escovedo Yoshiro Maeda KO (Head Kick) 1 2:29
4 Ryo Chonan Andrews Nakahara Decision (Unanimous) 2 5:00
5 Karl James Noons Andre Amado Decision (Unanimous) 2 5:00
6 Josh Barnett Siala Siliga Submission (Kimura) 1 4:41
7 Bibiano Fernandes Joachim Hansen Decision (Split) 2 5:00

Dream 13

21 03 2010

For those of you who like to stay up really late, and need more than the UFC to satisfy your mixed martial arts fix, Dream offer up their 13th event at 7am this morning. Josh Barnett, former UFC Heavyweight Champion, and widely regarded as one of the top 10 heavyweights in the world returns to action after 13 months away from the ring. After having his shot at the world’s top heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko taken away from him last year due to a testing positive for steroids, ‘The baby-faced Assassin’ continues to appeal his case against the failed drug test. Having kept busy in amateur grappling contests, he now faces Salia ‘Mighty Mo’ Siliga. ‘Mighty Mo’ comes into this fight with a record of 3-1, not having competed since his loss to Semmy Schilt via triangle choke back at K-1 Dynamite 2008. It’s always a pleasure to watch Barnett fight, he’s one of the most gifted and best rounded fighters on the planet, with a sick ‘catch as catch can’ ground game, and an ever improving stand up game, even knocking out Pedro Rizzo back at Affliction Banned in 2008. ‘Mighty Mo’ wont possess much danger to Barnett, and expect Barnett to get a submission in the first round. Also on the card, which will be the ‘fight of the night’, Dream featherweight Champion Bibiano Fernandes defends his 145 pound title against Joachim Hansen. Hansen drops down to 145 for the first time in his career. After losing a close decision to Eddie Alveraz in the quarter finals of the Dream Lightweight Tourney, Hansen came back as a late replacement for the injured Alverez and stopped Kultar Gill and then the worlds no 2 Lightweight Shinya Aoki to win the 2008 Tournament. His last fight, a rematch with Aoki, which he lost his title to a devastating armbar in the second round last June. Fernandes meanwhile shot to fame during last years Dream Featherweight Tournament, beating Takafumi Otsuka, Masakazu Imanari, new prospect and tourney favourite Joe Warren and then Hiroyuki Takaya in the finals. Bibiano Fernandes’ only losses coming to notables Urijah faber and one of my all time favourites Norifumi ‘Kid’ Yamamto. Expect to see Hansen push the pace, while Fernandes tries to get the fight to the ground. Hansen has the edge in experience, size, power, and overall game, but will the huge weight cut leave him with enough energy, should the fight go into the later rounds. I can’t wait for this fight, and expect Hansen to become the first fighter in Dream to win a Title in two separate weight divisions. KJ Noons, Former Elite XC 160 lb Champion, who made his name beating Nick Diaz back in 2007, returns to action tonight. In his match against Diaz, his biggest ever win,  Noons cleverly stayed out of Diaz’ reach, and used jabs to the body then looping right hands to open up Diaz’s guard, then knocked down Diaz with a counter straight right hand. Diaz couldn’t answer the bell to the second round due to cuts received and resulted in a doctor stoppage. Noons then went on to knock out UFC veteran Yves Edward in the first round at Elite XC ‘Return of the King’ , before refusing a rematch with Diaz and embarking on a boxing career. His opponent this evening comes in the form Andre ‘Dida’ Amado. the Brazilian is riding a 3 fight losing streak against Katsunori Kikuno, Eddie Alvarez, and Gesias ‘JZ’ Cavalcante, and his only notable win against Japanese legend, Caol Uno. It’s hard to pick a winner, and it will be interesting to see how much ring rust Noons’ two year lay off has left him.

Full Line up:

Dream Featherweight Title:

Bibiano Fernandes vs Joachim Hansen

Josh Barnett vs Salia ‘Mighty Mo’ Siliga

Karl James Noons vs Andre ‘Dida’ Amado

Katsunori Kikuno vs Kuniyoshi Hironaka

Ryo Chonnen vs Andrews Nakahara

Yoshiro Maeda vs Cole Escuvado

Ikuhisa Minowa vs Jimmy Armbiz

UFC Undisputed 2010 Trailer featuring BJ Penn

16 03 2010

The second UFC Undisputed 2010 trailer to be released by THQ features UFC Lightweight Champion BJ Penn. The in-game footage shows Penn applying a gogoplata, which is one of many new submissions  added to this years release. The major improvements come with an added ‘sway’ system for controlling upper body physics, and a new ‘posture’ system for ground fighting. Other new editions include a ‘Title’ Mode, where players can compete to win a title in a specific weight class, and a ‘Tournament’ mode, where players can create tournaments with up to 16 competitors. While last years UFC Undisputed 2009 has sold over 3 million units so far, making it a huge success, many fans were left disappointed by the game. Theres so many components to mixed martial arts, that its very hard to translate to a game, and it remains to be seen whether THQ can improve on last years effort. Meanwhile EA sports are close to completion with their first MMA game ‘EA Sports MMA’. Featuring a huge roster, from Dream, Strikeforce, World Victory Road, as well as retired legends. This game comes with a whos who of MMA, including Fedor Emelianenko, Randy Couture, Gegard Mousasi, Dan Henderson, Shinya Aoki, Nick Diaz, Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller, Cung Le, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, and also Frank and Ken Shamrock. For hardcore MMA fans, EA Sports definitely has the better roster, but it is also being developed using the ‘Knockout Kings’ game engine meaning that punches and kicks will be assigned to the analogue sticks, giving a much more fluid, and intuitive control system. I for one will be purchasing both games, but EA Sports MMA is the one I’m most looking forward to. Like EA Sports say ‘it’s a game made by dedicated MMA fans, for dedicated MMA fans’.