Newly signed Japanese import Takanori Gomi will make his long-awaited Octagon debut tonight when he meets Kenny Florian at “UFC Fight Night 21” inside the Bojangles Coliseum Charlotte, North Carolina.
Just three years ago, Gomi was considered by most MMA pundits as the planet’s baddest lightweight. Although he still owns a dominant 31-5 professional record, Nick Diaz wiped away much of the mystique when he submitted Gomi with a gogoplata at Pride 33, only to have it overturned to a No Contest when Diaz tested positive for weed shortly after.
“[I’ve prepared] well and I will not have problems adapting to the Octagon,” Gomi told Kamipro.com. “Mr. Florian is a fighter with good skills, one of the best of its kind in the UFC. It is a good opponent for a good start. I make a good fight for the public and start a successful outcome.”
Despite the 31 wins on Gomi’s resume, 14 of those W’s came by way of the judges’ scorecards. The lightweight understands that he will need to pick up the pace against Florian because Kenny’s not willing to leave his fate in the hands of the three officials sitting cage-side.
Although “The Fireball Kid” is a modest .500 over his last four bouts, Gomi is confident he’ll make quite the splash in his UFC debut.
“By knockout in the 1stRound,” Gomi said on how he intended to end Florian’s evening.
Florian, a two-time UFC lightweight top contender, stakes claim to a 12-4 record, but what’s most impressive is the fact he’s ended all but one of his victories before the final horn. In addition, half of his losses have come in 5Round title fights, including his UFC 101 loss to reigning king BJ Penn this past August.
“We’ll see if he can deliver on his prediction,” Florian told to FightersOnly. “I’ll be waiting for him [tonight] and look forward to the test.”
Florian enters tonight’s scrap as a heavy 3.5-to-1 favorite to collect his second consecutive win, while Gomi checks in at +250.
UFC FN 21 airs tonight on Spike TV beginning at 8PM ET/PT and will be immediately followed by the season premiere of “The Ultimate Fighter 11.”