Ending weeks of speculation, RIZIN FF made it official on Wednesday: Japan’s ‘Fireball’ Kid is back!
Takanori Gomi, once considered one of the fiercest talents at lightweight, will return to action in December. On Wednesday, RIZIN FF announced that Gomi (35–14 (1)), recently released from the UFC, had joined the promotion. RIZIN officials had previously confirmed to Cageside Press that they were in talks with the star. Gomi also posted a hint on Instagram that he would appear with the Japanese promotion.
In the mid-2000s, Gomi stood out as one of the best fighters in the lower weight classes. Known for his battles with Jens Pulver, Tatsuya Kawajiri, B.J. Penn, Nick Diaz, Duane Ludwig and others, the Pride lightweight champion was expected to do big things upon joining the UFC in 2010. His career in the North American promotion never really got going, however, and at 39, he left the UFC on a five fight losing streak. Shockingly, he finished his UFC stint at just 4-9.
Gomi will appear against fellow Japanese fighter Yusuke Yachi at the RIZIN FF World Grand Prix 2017 Finale Round card on December 31. Yachi (18-6) is currently on a five fight win streak, with three of those wins coming under the RIZIN banner. He captured a KO victory over former UFC combatant Daron Cruickshank in April. That was followed up by a TKO over Satoru Kitaoka in July. Yachi is also a former title holder in both Shooto and Pacific Xtreme Combat, and has been ranked as high as second at lightweight within Japan.
A win here is crucial for Gomi if he’s to mount any sort of comeback this late in his career. Yachi is a dangerous opponent, and this fight has a lot of promise.
Gomi vs. Yachi will take place at the RIZIN FF New Year’s Eve show, also known as the RIZIN FF World Grand Prix 2017 Final Round. The card takes place at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan on December 31.