Great Fights is a series aimed at newer MMA fans who are looking for recommendations on the sport's finest bouts.
With an undefeated Pride record on the line, and a former UFC Lightweight champion across the ring from him in Jens Pulver, Takanori Gomi was set for an opportunity to claim himself the consensus #1 lightweight in the world.
Pulver boasted some of the cleanest boxing in the sport at the time despite being relatively undersized for the weight class. He fought behind a beautiful jab and constant bodywork. Gomi, on the other hand, was known for his high-octane brawling style mixed with respectable grappling.
Their fight was destined to go down as an all-timer before the bell even rang for round one.
From the get-go, it was clear that Gomi had little intention of getting the fight to the ground. The speed of striking on both sides was a thing of sheer beauty; the two fought in a phone booth and rarely gave an inch despite eating big shots. Despite being contested in such close proximity to one another, both fighters remained technical in their approach.
Gomi, in particular, was walking through some of Pulver's hardest strikes undeterred in his pursuit of the body shot. Heavy hooks to the body helped to fatigue Pulver halfway through the first round. At this point, Gomi began to mix up his striking.
What had started out as a pure boxing match had soon become somewhat of a Muay Thai fight. Gomi's leg kicks began to chip away at Pulver who stayed consistent in his boxing approach. Gomi landed some sharp knees in the clinch that drained Pulver's stamina even further.
By faking yet another shot to the body, Gomi managed to force Pulver's hands down and find a home for a left uppercut that dropped the American fighter for good. Within the space of six minutes, Gomi had declared himself the #1 lightweight in the sport - and this after standing with a man few dared to stand with.
It's one of the all-time great Pride fights and recommended viewing for all.
UFC Fight Pass subscribers can watch the fight here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/31877/takanori-gomi-vs-jens-pulver-pride-shockwave-2004
The fight is also available on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sZUAzpGiYY