UFC 172 Fight Breakdown: Takanori Gomi (-220) vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg (+180)

Takanori Gomi One of the prelims at UFC 172 is a three-round lightweight bout between Takanori “The Fireball Kid” Gomi and Isaac Vallie-Flagg. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Gomi as a -220 favorite (bet $220 to win $100) while Vallie-Flagg is a +180 underdog (bet $100 to win $180). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Gomi at -185 and Vallie-Flagg at +145, meaning there has been some action on the favorite Gomi. I agree with the line movement as I am also picking Gomi to win this fight. Here’s why. Gomi (34-9, 1 NC) is one of the best lightweight fighters of all time. The former PRIDE lightweight champ, Gomi has made a career for himself as a knockout artist and owes 13 career wins via T/KO. He has fought many of the top 155lbers in the world including former UFC champ BJ Penn (who he lost to via submission) and holds notable wins over Tatsuya Kawajiri, Jens Pulver, Mach Sakurai, Duane Ludwig, Tyson Griffin, Mac Danzig, Leonardo Santos, and Johnny Eduardo, amongst others. Since coming over to the UFC in 2010, he’s 3-4 with wins over Griffin, Danzig, and Eiji Mitsuoka and losses to Clay Guida, Nate Diaz, Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez. However, most thought the judges ripped the 35-year-old off against Sanchez and that has to be kept in mind, because had Gomi earned that decision he would be riding a three-fight win streak right now. A gifted striker with an underrated ground game, Gomi has been out for 14 months and the long layoff is a concern heading into this weekend’s matchup against Vallie-Flagg, but based on the styles this is a favorable matchup for him. Vallie-Flagg (14-4-1) is a solid lightweight fighter who is 1-1 since moving over to the UFC following a 2-0 run in Strikeforce, which included split decision wins over JZ Cavalcante and Brian Melancon. Now 36 years of age, it’s been a tale of two fighters during Vallie-Flagg’s UFC career as he looked solid in his debut against Yves Edwards last year but terrible in his fight against Elias Silverio earlier this year. It’s possible that Silverio is just way better than everyone thinks and maybe we can’t write Vallie-Flagg off just yet, but it’s also possible that fight was a sign that lingering injuries are started to put him on the downside of his career. A decent striker with good cardio and toughness, Vallie-Flagg likes to walk forward and his aggressiveness is usually what wins him fights. A winner of 11 of his last 13 fights, Vallie-Flagg is a Greg Jackson-trained fighter and you know that coach Greg Jackson has put together a solid gameplan for him against Gomi. But even with a gameplan, does he have enough left in the tank to compete with the talented “Fireball Kid”? I’m not so sure, but we’ll see this weekend at UFC 172. This should be a somewhat competitive fight between two veterans of the sport that goes the three-round distance, but I believe Gomi can clearly win at least the first two rounds with his striking to take home a decision on the judges’ scorecards. Some see Gomi as overvalued in this spot at -220, but I see him winning this fight and think he could be worth a spot in a two-team parlay. Since this is a fight I do think goes three rounds, the judges have to be kept in mind, but I think Gomi will be landing the better strikes the whole time and it should be a pretty clear win for him. I also see value in the prop of the fight going the three-round distance, which is currently -195, as both men are tough to finish and both should be able to survive the full 15 minutes.

Written by Adam Martin.

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