GOMI TO RETURN TO PRIDE THIS AUGUST
07/28/2006

Additional cards for the joint PRIDE BUSHIDO 12 and PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix Second Round event, to be held on August 26th at Nagoya's Rainbow Hall, were announced at a July 24th press conference held at PRIDE'S "Dreamer's" gym in Tokyo. PRIDE's Lightweight Champion, Takanori Gomi, will return to the PRIDE ring for the first time in four months!


Takanori Gomi arrived at the press conference with the blonde hair he wore when he was just beginning his career. Even among the all-stars of the Lightweight Division, Gomi's presence is overwhelming.
"It's been three years since I joined PRIDE. A lot of things have happened during that time but now I've built my own gym, creating an environment to train in, and I think this will be the true start for me. I want to go beyond what I've done in the past year, or the year before that. In terms of my feelings, I've become able to devote myself to martial arts now and I want to show everyone what a true Champion is supposed to look like."
Gomi's attitude was clearly different than before his fight with Marcus Aurelio. Gomi recently completed his "Kugayama Rascal Gym" in Tokyo's Kugayama Ward and after a self-awareness of his role as Champion took root, seems ready to make his new start.
"Even before the last fight, I was talking with the gym members about wanting a new (training) environment. I wanted a new goal or some kind of change after the New Year's Eve event was over. I found a building I liked around May and the members came on Saturday (July 22nd), so today is the second day since we opened," Gomi happily explained.
Gomi's opponent will be announced in a few days. "I don't really have any preference (who my opponent is). I hope he will be someone I can have a good fight with because if you're not careful or you hold back, you'll quickly be overcome," Gomi commented.
"If they get a chance, they can come after you in the blink of an eye and take overcome you. I think the (Lightweight) fights are going to be amazing. When you fight in PRIDE, it's kill or be killed. Once you're in the ring, your record doesn't matter. To get the belt, you've got to go through hell."
Additionally, when Gomi was asked about Mitsuhiro Ishida's victory over Marcus Aurelio, he declared that as the Champion, he was ready to accept all challenges, "He's a great fighter. If it's want everyone wants, I'll accept anyone's challenge. I think it would be good if we can fight after everything becomes exciting. I'll fight anyone and I've won no matter who I fought. I will accept any challenge."
Regarding Norifumi "KID" Yamamoto's decision to move away from MMA to focus on wrestling in the Olympics, Gomi said, "I hope he will do his best. He's probably satisfied with what he's done (in MMA). I guess he reached his goal when he got the belt. He has never stopped wrestling and this must make his dad excited." [Note: Gomi and Yamamoto both came from Kiguchi Dojo, famous for amateur wrestling.] "I can do anything but I always wanted to be number one in MMA and that's what I want to continue doing," Gomi replied when asked if he had any desire to compete in the Olympics.
Regarding Gomi's opponent, Dream Stage Entertainment CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara explained there would be no compromise, "He's a foreigner. He won't get put against an easy opponent just because it's his comeback fight. We've prepared a tough opponent, no different than any other fight." Sakakibara continued, explaining that this event will also serve as a proving ground for the Las Vegas PRIDE event, "We want to put together bouts for the October event in America with fighters that stand out in this (August) event, not just Gomi." Sakakibara's statement was a suggestion that Gomi, the Lightweight Champion and the pride of Japan, may soon make his American debut.
"I would like to have a title match in November, depending on how he performs in his comeback match" Sakakibara explained his plan for Gomi's next PRIDE Lightweight Championship title match. "At the moment, Marcus (Aurelio) is at the top of the list. Ishida would give an exciting fight, too. I would like to choose once it's clear who everyone thinks the next challenger should be, including the fans and the mass media. Of course, it's entirely possible that it will be a Japanese fighter."
Now the August 26th BUSHIDO event will also serve as a venue to see who will be the next challenger for Gomi. Who will gain the right to fight in a title match? Will Gomi be able to make a complete comeback? These answers to these questions and more can be found in the ring on August 26th in Nagoya.