Former Pride lightweight champion and highly ranked 155-lber Takanori Gomi will return to the Octagon at UFC 172, replacing Danny Castillo on seven weeks notice to fight Isaac Vallie-Flagg. Gomi was once considered one of the best lightweights in the world, but has had an inconsistent spell since transferring over to the UFC from Pride.
The Japanese fan favourite holds a 34-9 (1 NC) record as a professional, but his UFC record is less impressive. His run of 3-4 for the promotion has shown glimmers of the old Gomi, but has equally showed his best days may be behind him. However his latest performance, a loss to Diego Sanchez, was highly controversial and many media members and fans scored the fight in The Fireball Kid’s favour. That loss snapped a two fight win streak over Eiji Mitsuoka and Mac Danzig, and he will look to rebound with a win over Vallie-Flagg in April.
Vallie-Flagg trains out of Jackson’s MMA and has accumulated a 14-4-1 record which includes wins over Yves Edwards, Gesias Cavalcante and Brian Melancon. However the American had a twelve fight unbeaten streak snapped in January, losing to Elias Silverio via unanimous decision. A former Strikeforce competitor, Vallie-Flagg is coming into the biggest fight of his career and this is a do-or-die fight for the 35-year old’s hopes for a run at the UFC belt.
Vallie-Flagg was originally slated to fight Team Alpha Male’s Danny Castillo, who is coming off a loss to Edson Barboza after impressing in the first round of the encounter. Castillo was pulled from the fight but will remain on the card, as the UFC favoured the Vallie-Flagg vs. Gomi match-up.
UFC 172 will be held on April 26 in Baltimore, MD. at the Baltimore Arena. The card is headlined by a UFC light heavyweight title bout between champion Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira, who has impressed massively since joining the promotion.