Takanori Gomi talks Rizin NYE fights, Boxing aspirations & legendary legacy

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Takanori Gomi went to a draw against Tenshin Nasukawa in a custom rules bout on December 30th, 2021. This transpired at Rizin 33 from the world-renowned Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

I spoke with The Fireball Kid after his NYE clash and excerpts from our chat are below.

Takanori Gomi

Gomi’s go-to post-fight beers

“Today is a day to rest my liver, which means no drinking…As far as beer goes Dylan, I will drink anything. I recommend Yebisu, I drink Guinness, Heineken, Corona. I’ll pretty much drink any kind of beer.”

“Yes, I do. I do put in the lime (with the Corona).”

The experience of testing skills with Tenshin Nasukawa in a custom rules bout on NYE

“This fight was said to be Tenshin’s last fight in Rizin. He was on his way to make his move to boxing. And although I’ve been training MMA, boxing has been my life’s work. Every time I don’t train MMA, I would train boxing. I would continue to do so my entire career. So, my honest opinion is that I really wanted to send out Tenshin and show him what boxing is really about. If I had enough time, I didn’t want to utilize my power and overpower him.”

“I wanted to show him the technique. I wanted to be as fast as him, as agile as him, if I had enough time to train. So in a perfect world, I wanted the proper time to train. So I can send off and introduce him to boxing in the proper way. But unfortunately, it didn’t happen but it is what it is. That’s what we saw.”

Looking to secure a spot on that June event headlined by Tenshin vs. Takeru

“So the whole point of me demanding that spot in June was, I just wanted to send a message. Saying don’t give me short notice fights. I need time to prepare mentally and physically to show a good showing. So that was the entire point of me demanding that spot. So I’m not sure if I’m going to be fighting a boxing fight in June. But the whole intention of making that demand was you know, don’t give me short notice fights.”

“If the opportunity presents itself on such a big fight card, I would love to take on the challenge. And I’ve already made it clear that I wanted to challenge Rizin CEO (Nobuyuki) Sakakibara. So we’ll see how that goes. I also would like to challenge international legendary fighters if possible. Obviously, I probably wouldn’t be able to get the opportunity to fight the current top guys out there. But some legendary fighters, boxers. Those are some of the challenges that I would want to face.”

Rizin

Gomi’s hybrid rules fights on consecutive Rizin New Years cards and what his future is with that

“Yeah, that’s definitely one option. But right now I do feel that overseas, a lot of big boxing exhibitions, big boxing fights, where legends are fighting legends. Big names are fighting, big fights happening in boxing. So I would definitely like to get involved and challenge those if an opportunity is there.”

Gomi’s huge legacy as a lightweight champion in Japan (Shooto and Pride) as well as his thoughts on Japan’s modern lightweight king Roberto de Souza

“(Roberto de) Souza, he’s a super tough guy. Got a great personality. He’s got that personality where he lights up the room and makes everybody cheerful, happy. He’s got something very special, and he’s very good. So I always think that if we were competing during the same time, during the same era, I do believe that he would be a great rival of mine. Back in my heyday. I always train with the possibility of me facing Souza. But my trainer says that he will take your head off. So don’t do it.”

His last MMA fight being at Rizin 11 in July 2018, as of this writing, and Gomi’s mixed martial arts future

“So, as far as MMA goes, I have a lot of MMA fighters coming in to train with me in my gym. The plan is to pass down my experience and knowledge to the new generation. In the hope, they put on a good showing in Rizin. But for me, I think it’d be easier for me to get fights and get back into fighting with boxing rules or these custom rules bouts.”

Gomi’s feelings on some perceiving his Tenshin bout as a Pride vs Rizin, cross-generational clash

“I do train with top Japanese fighters every day at the gym. I just feel very grateful and fortunate for those young fighters. Who actually say that they would want to trade fists or exchange strikes with me in front of such a big crowd. And I’m grateful for those young kids who say they want to fight me. I just feel very blessed that I’m able to continue to fight up until this age.”

Rizin 33

What fighters inspired Takanori Gomi when he was a young fighter on the rise

“For me, it’s mostly Shooto fighters but it would be Rumina Sato. Mach Sakurai, Hayato Sakurai. Rumina-san definitely inspired me to be who I am. In terms of boxing, (Joichiro) Tatsuyoshi and (Takanori) Hatakeyama. Those two were my inspirational fighters back when I was young.”

The feelings associated with defeating his idol Rumina Sato for the prestigious Shooto lightweight championship over twenty years ago

“It’s a very awkward way to describe this. But for me back then, as long as I was the challenger, as long as I was challenging an opponent, I was going in there to win. I was determined to win, but I remember the atmosphere being very intense. I was extremely nervous because although I was in Japan, Rumina-san was the star at the time. He was the definite favorite. I felt like I was fighting overseas because it was such a hostile environment. That’s what I remember from that fight.”

Parting thoughts for Takanori Gomi

“So I know that a lot of legendary boxers and fighters are making their return in the US. So I’m waiting for that offer. Please put the word out.”

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