By Patrick Lujan
Jon Tuck has already established himself in Guam’s sports folklore. A win in his next UFC fight may just push that placement into the Asian realm.
That’s because he’ll be taking on Japanese MMA legend Takanori Gomi in UFC Singapore on June 17th.
Gomi has almost 18 years of pro fighting experience and the list of opponents runs deep in his 47 fights (35-12). Tuck was just 16-years-old and a student at Guam High when Gomi started banging in Japan’s Shooto promotion. Tuck’s total fights (13) is just one more than Gomi’s entire losses.
Wins in the Octagon have been hard to come by for both fighters, however, making this fight a critical crossroads for each lightweight.
Tuck has just returned back home from a training camp with long-time mentor Marcos Oliveira in Abu Dhabi.
As for Gomi, the battle scars are worn on his sleeve with fights against B.J. Penn, Nate Diaz, Nick Diaz, Diego Sanchez, Kenny Florian, Clay Guida, Leonardo Santos, Joe Luazon….and much more.
“He is a warrior that fights to the end,” said fellow Japanese legend and Guam friend Enson Inoue. “Always dangerous and can unleash a KO punch at any time during a fight. A true fighter with the spirit of a samurai.”
Other than his dynamic, relentless pace, Gomi is also known for his knockout power. Thirteen of his wins came by way of knockout – eight in the first round.
“He’s got heavy hands,” said MMA royalty Royce Gracie about Gomi.
On the personal side, Gomi is known to be a quiet man from Kanagawa who still requires an interpreter to help with interviews.
“He’s real quiet and frank,” Inoue added. “Not flamboyant. He’s humble and always come to pay his respects to me.”
GSPN is grateful to get help from his fight camp to answer some of our questions for the “The Fireball Kid”.
GSPN: Hafa adai from Guam Gomi san. Why did you take this fight against Jon Tuck?
Gomi: Tuck is an aggressive fighter, so we can compete with each other well.
GSPN: How much of Tuck did you know prior to being offered to fight him?
Gomi: I knew that he was also fighting at the Macao event, where I fought. (Note: both fighters fought in back-to-back bouts. Gomi defeated Mac Danzig and Tuck won his UFC debut in 2012)
GSPN: Have you done your homework on Tuck? If so, what impresses you the most about his fight game?
Gomi: He is good at striking and grappling, too. Also, he is one of the fighters from Guam, who is doing great work to make MMA popular locally.
GSPN: You have much more experience than he does. You’ve been in battles with the world’s Who’s Who? in the lightweight division. Meanwhile, you’ll be Tuck’s biggest challenge as far as name recognition. How do you approach such a fight against someone who can make a name for himself by beating you?
Gomi: I always have attitude to challenge myself to improve. You have to fight yourself.
GSPN: You’re both coming off losing streaks. Does that fuel the fire even more, knowing that two fighters are in desperate need of a win?
Gomi: Fighters naturally wants victory on any fights regardless the record or situation.
GSPN: You’re 38-years-old. How old does the body feel after nearly 20 years of world-class level fighting?
Gomi: I feel I have gained some muscle recently.
GSPN: Guam…a very popular tourist destination for Japanese. We’ve had the likes of Saduharu Oh, Sakuraba and Enson Inoue visit us on numerous occasions. Ever plan on visiting us?
Gomi: I would love to visit Guam after the fight.
GSPN: How do you envision your fight with Jon Tuck playing out?
Gomi: I wish our fight can show our strength. If so, It should be great fight.
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