Takahiro Gomi is Ready For Ishida.

PRIDE Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi held a public training session at his Kugayama Rascal Gym on December 23rd. Gomi will face Mitsuhiro Ishida in the December 31st PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2006, to be held at Saitama Super Arena.

"There will be a lot of mental pressure from everyone around me today but I don't have any injuries and my conditioning isn't bad. If I train hard as usual, it's good for the students at the gym, too, so they are always here, even though it's cold. My training has been very good," Gomi sat in the middle of his gym and with little emotion, answered questions from reporters.



When asked about Ishida's wrestling backbone, Gomi replied that he would be making a return to his own roots, "That becomes the center of your training. I do combat wrestling and I still train the way I did long ago."

"My impression of the New Year's Eve event? The card seems to be centered on the lighter weight divisions. Yoshida's fight hasn't been made official yet, though. That's about all. Personally and mentally, I'm going back to my roots, just like I did in my first New Year's Eve fight against Pulver. Little by little, I'm starting to feel like my old self. I've found some areas that I need to work on in my training and I've realized that I really love wrestling and striking. I love martial arts training. I'm starting to want a one-on-one fight with Ishida."

Gomi won't have to worry about the title in this fight. This will be a one-on-one battle between two men and Gomi wants to make it a fight purely about winning or losing. Gomi has been under a lot of pressure in his fights this year and it seemed that he had lost sight of his old self.

Gomi looked back on the past year, "I hope (Ishida) sets his sights on me. I've become a target in two years. If I work a little harder, I think the results will speak for themselves. I feel like I needed to grow this year. I don't think I have to hold anything back this time. Overall, this has been a year of endurance and the next fight will show whether this year should be considered as stagnant or whether being patient was a necessary step. I almost lost sight of my goals and my motivation. This is a fight that everyone has been waiting for so I want to make this last fight of the year a good one. I just want to see who is stronger. One way or the other, this fight will end with a KO."

Looking at Gomi's fights over the past year, he seems to have been a completely different person than the year before. However, it appears that fans are going to be treated to a return of the "Fireball Kid" in the final event of 2006. When Gomi heard Ishida's comments made at recent public training session, he stopped being calm-Gomi. In reply to Gomi's comment in a magazine that he would fight this fight as if it were sparring, Ishida said, "If that's so, we're going to have one hell of a sparring session." Hearing this, Gomi's eyes shined as he declared, "I'm going to show him a fight like he has never seen before."

Asked about the cake that Ishida received for his upcoming birthday on the 29th, Gomi replied, "I couldn't care less about that." Gomi continued, "Congratulations. After all, it something that happens to everyone once a year, right?"

Ishida's coach, Takeshi Yamada, said that "Gomi is a truly strong fighter and his punches are excellent. There aren't many mixed martial artists that can throw body punches like thatIshida has done a lot of work to strengthen his abdomen because the fight is lost if Gomi's body punches hurt him." Ishida also revealed part of his training, "I don't remember the exact number but I have never been hit with so many body punches. Just remembering it makes me want to throw up. (laughing)." Hearing these comments, Gomi replied, "Well, I'll just hit him in a different place. (laughing) I mean, it's easier for me just to aim somewhere that he hasn't strengthened, right?"

Although Gomi seemed to take Ishida's comments calmly, he was clearly burning up on the inside. After the Q&A session following his training, Gomi began punishing the heavy bag as if to say do you really think you can stop these? "If you tell me that it won't hurt, I'm going to get angry and of course, that's where I'm going to concentrate on!" Gomi said.

"These will hurt him," Gomi said with complete confidence in his body blows. Will Ishida be able to take Gomi's body blows on New Year's Eve? Or will Gomi fold Ishida in the middle as he has done to other tough fighters?

"I'm ready and the fans that come to the venue are going to go crazy," Gomi said, his motivation apparently returned. "Our fight will be just as good as the main event."

Concerning his fights next year, Gomi declared, "I will focus on (fighting) overseas. I think it would be great if I could fight in many different places as the PRIDE Champion. That's my motivation now. When I became the SHOOTO Champion at 23 years old, I wanted to fight overseas then, too. I've always dreamed that if I gave just a little more effort, it would happen. If you stay focused on your dreams, they will always come true. It's just tiring to train all the time without any goals, so I'm always trying to look ahead to the future."

Gomi wants to go beyond Japan and become an international fighter. To make that dream come true, he has to beat Ishida. Both sides have a lot to gain, and a lot to lose, so something amazing is definitely going to happen on New Year's Eve.