Takanori Gomi May Face Kenny FlorianFormer PRIDE Lightweight Champion Takanori “Fireball Kid” Gomi will not have an easy fight in his Octagon debut. The former #1-ranked lightweight is expected to battle two-time title challenger Kenny “KenFlo” Florian in the main event of UFC Fight Night 21 on March 31st.

The bout would be Gomi’s first on U.S. soil since his bizarre and controversial PRIDE 33 war with Nick Diaz in 2007. Gomi has won four of six fights since then and will immediately be matched up against tough competition in the UFC as he aims to capture title gold once again.

Gomi (31-5-0, 1 ND) reigned supreme in Shooto and PRIDE for many years in Japan and won 24 of his first 26 fights. His lone defeats during that time came against former Shooto and DREAM champ Joachim “Hellboy” Hansen and current UFC Lightweight Champion “The Prodigy” BJ Penn. Gomi would go on to capture the PRIDE Lightweight Championship in 2005, but was shockingly upset in a non-title bout with Marcus “Maximus” Aurelio three months later.

Once the top-ranked lightweight in the world, Gomi has experienced ups and downs over the past four years. His disastrous fight with Diaz, which saw him batter the Stockton native for much of the first round before succumbing to a gogoplata in round two, was later overturned after Diaz tested positive for marijuana. The damage had been done, however, and Gomi’s career has never been the same since then. A victory over Florian would restore Gomi’s ranking as one of the best in the sport.

Florian (12-4-0) has twice challenged for the UFC Lightweight Championship, but came up short in title bouts with Sean “The Muscle Shark” Sherk and current champion Penn. The submission ace has finished all but one of his opponents and holds recent wins over Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon, Roger “El Matador” Huerta and Joe “Daddy” Stevenson. He last competed at UFC 107 and submitted Clay “The Carpenter” Guida with a second-round choke. While another crack at the title may not be in Florian’s immediate future, defeating Gomi would arguably be the biggest win of his career.

UFC Fight Night 21 takes place on March 31st in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Bojangles Coliseum is expected to house the event, which will air live on SpikeTV.


(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)