It was reported on Saturday night, after the UFC 108 post-fight press conference, that Dana White has confirmed the signing of the once highly-decorated Japanese lightweight elite, Takanori Gomi. The last year has seen the “Fireball Kid” bounce from smaller MMA events, such as Shooto, a defunct Affliction and most recently Vale Tudo Japan but since finding a stateside home with the UFC, Gomi is looking to pave a path through the lightweight division that will evidently lead to his greatest source of motivation, the fighter who walked away with a submission victory from their first engagement—B.J. Penn.
“There’s a lot to be learned from BJ’s fighting spirit,” Gomi explained to MMAWeekly.com. “Obviously my only goal is to get to his level, and this will be a great challenge to me as a fighter, to see if I can remain as a top level fighter. And of course it would mean a lot to become the champion, but I’m not looking that far ahead. For me, right now, the goal is to become ‘The UFC fighter’ and to fight in front of the fans here.”
Dana White told MMAJunkie.com that one of the major attributes to Gomi’s decision to migrate to the UFC was his experience from sitting in on a live event.
“I think once he got to his first show (he was ready to sign),” White said. “I say this all the time; when you see the UFC on TV, it’s one thing. But when you’re here live, it’s a lot of energy, and it turns a lot of people around when they come to a live event. They’re like, ‘This is so different than watching it on TV.’ And a lot of those guys who came over originally from PRIDE and these other organizations … are like, ‘Man, I need to fight here at least once.'”
In regards to the newly acquired Gomi’s (31-5) first opponent, ESPN’s “MMA Live” posted a Twitter message announcing Kenny Florian, a co-host for the show, as the Japanese fighter’s first challenge. During the press conference, Dana smirked when asked by MMAJunkie.com to verify the rumor. The UFC president responded, “”Could be. There’s a lot of guys in that division who could fight Gomi, though.”
Florian’s camp welcomed the prospect but said they had not received an official offer. The 33-year-old Boston native is coming off a dominant performance against perpetual gaterkeeper, Clay Guida, at UFC 107.
A win in a hypothetical fight between Gomi, who is currently on a two-fight win streak, and Florian would be a catalyst for each of the B.J. Penn victims to get closer in contention for a chance of redemption against the Hilo Kid.