Japanese demigod Takanori “The Fireball Kid” Gomi (31-5) could face Kenny Florian (12-4) in his UFC debut. The Shooto/Sengoku/PRIDE veteran is the UFC’s newest addition to their 155-pound lightweight division.
UFC President Dana White confirmed Gomi’s addition to the promotion Friday on his video blog. And ESPN’s MMA Live, for whom Florian works, Tweeted on Saturday, “It looks like Gomi will fight Ken-Flo in his UFC debut!”
White would not yet confirm the match-up between Florian and Gomi. When asked at the UFC 108 post-fight press conference if Florian would be Gomi’s debut fight he said, “Could be. There’s a lot of guys that could fight Gomi in that division. I don’t know.”
Florian would be a great first fight for Gomi, and it would be a great gauge to see where the 31-year-old is, ability-wise, in his career. At one time Gomi was thought to be at the top of the world’s lightweight division.
Beginning with his first fight in 1998, Gomi won 14 straight fights, then lost a majority decision to Joachim Hansen in Aug. 2003. Two months later he got choked out by B.J. Penn at Rumble on the Rock. Then he went on another ten fight win streak until Marcus Aurelio submitted him at PRIDE – Bushido 10.
In Gomi’s only fight on American soil, and what was arguably one of the greatest MMA fights of all time, Gomi faced Nick Diaz at PRIDE 33 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev., in Feb. 2007. It was a glorious fight.
Gomi used ground and pound to control Diaz and bust him up. Diaz was cut and bleeding, but Gomi began to fade. Near the end of the first, and then the second round, Diaz rallied with beautiful boxing, and finally ended it by introducing much of the MMA world to the gogoplata submission for the very first time.
In his last ten fights, Gomi has gone 7-2-1, and is currently on a two-fight win streak.
White made the statement that Gomi did not want to end his career without fighting in the world’s number one MMA organization. If Gomi could put together an impressive run in the UFC, it would be a beautiful story book ending to the career of this Japanese legend.
Like so many before him, will Gomi fall victim to the “PRIDE curse”, or will he show he still belongs right in the mix with the best lightweight fighters in the world? A win over Kenny Florian would be the ideal UFC welcome party for “The Fireball Kid”.
By: Jack Bratcher