TOKYO, March 5 -- With World Victory Road's inaugural event in the
books, the fighters of Sengoku wished their new home show continued
success in their post-fight comments Wednesday evening.
Japanese lightweight ace Takanori Gomi (Pictures) defeated Duane Ludwig (Pictures) by TKO in the first round and
appeared satisfied with his return performance against the American
after a 14-month layoff.
With the world's top lightweights either in the UFC or K-1's new
promotion, Dream, Gomi is apparently the only top lightweight in
World Victory Road's upstart Sengoku show. Asked if he would lack
challenges in the promotion, a confident but elusive Gomi replied
that he did not believe it would be a problem and that future
challenges would surely find their way to him in Sengoku.
"If we continue to have a clean, wonderful event like this, of
course the fans will be gathering from all around to see the
fights," Gomi said. "And of course if the fans are coming, the
events will be bigger, and of course other fighters will want to
fight in this event.
"That's why I'm not worried about that kind of stuff right
With Dream locking down the country's lightweight talent for its
stacked lightweight grand prix, the winner of the yearlong
tournament could most likely be the usurper to Gomi's throne.
Despite efforts to tease out a prediction from the Pride
lightweight champ, Gomi would not comment or support any particular
"I can't predict who's going to win because most of the fighters I
know," Gomi said with a wry smile. "All those young fighters are
doing their best to have great fights there, so really, I just want
to go see the fights and cheer them on."
As for top-10 lightweights across the Pacific, questions about UFC
lightweight champion B.J. Penn
(Pictures) also arose in the post-fight
discussion. Gomi, who lost to a dominating Penn in 2003, mildly
expressed his desire for a rematch against the Hawaiian.
"I just came back to fight after a long layoff and I'd like to make
myself more fit and more of a complete fighter before fighting
B.J. Penn (Pictures)," Gomi said. "For this
fight [with Ludwig], I sparred and did weight training. I was
concerned about the physical aspects of my body. I want to perfect
[it] before a fight with B.J.
Regarding the UFC, Gomi had been quoted in the past as only wanting
to attend the event in Las Vegas rather than actually compete in
the Octagon. Gomi mentioned Wednesday his continued desire to
frequent the American event, and his New Year's Eve attendance of
UFC 79 was just the beginning of what he would like to be a regular
"Actually, I'd like to ask the organizers of Sengoku not to [give
me] a fight on New Year's Eve because I want to go to Las Vegas to
see the fights in the UFC," the Japanese star replied with an
"Of course I'd like to fight, but at the same time on NYE, I want
to go see the UFC for sure."
After defeating judo gold medalist Hidehiko Yoshida (Pictures) by a heel hook in the third
round, the MMA avatar of catch wrestling, Josh Barnett (Pictures), also lent his continued support
to WVR's Sengoku.
"Every week, till the end of the year, 150 fights, until the
contract ends," quipped Barnett about his contractual commitment to
Sengoku before returning to seriousness. "At this point, I'm
looking forward to helping push Sengoku forward. That's what I'm
Barnett also commented on the evening's announcement of Kevin Randleman (Pictures) and Roger Gracie (Pictures) as additions to the Sengoku
lineup, stating that while he would prefer not to fight another
friend in Randleman, he is certainly prepared to take on either
"Either one is fine, but Randleman I've known a very long time,"
Barnett said. "We're friends, and it's kind of like fighting
Yoshida-san again. You don't want to have to fight your friends,
but of course, we're professionals. That just can't be
Barnett also had what appeared to be uncharacteristic praise for
Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter Roger Gracie (Pictures).
"Anybody would love to fight a Gracie," he said. "That's a great
name. He's got a great resume for grappling. As a fighter, he's
young and untested and inexperienced, but I don't think he's a weak
guy. I think he'd give the best fight he could, and the Gracie name
is not where it is today because they're slouches."
Barnett explained that while his immediate future is unclear, he
hopes to return to fighting soon.
"Right now, it's icing the injuries. I have to recover," Barnett
said of what's next for him. "I want to look forward to the next
opportunity to fight, either in Sengoku or who knows where. But I
have to stay sharp.
"The one thing I have planned is April 12 in Osaka, for the Inoki
Genome Federation," the heavyweight noted, taking the time to
promote his professional wrestling endeavors.
WVR heads of state Naoya Kinoshita and Tokuhiro Kokuho also
announced their plans for their second and third events.
Tentatively scheduled for May 18 and June 8, WVR will hold Sengoku
shows at Ariake Coliseum and Saitama Super Arena -- the current
home venue of Dream -- respectively, with the intention of hosting
a grand prix in a to-be-determined weight class.
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