Earlier today UFC President, Dana White confirmed reports that former PRIDE lightweight wrecking-machine, Takanori Gomi has indeed signed a contract to fight for the UFC.
?The Fireball Kid? was once considered the top lightweight fighter in the world and while he may have lost some steam since then, the Japanese striker is still a very exciting signing for the UFC.
With global expansion on the UFC?s mind, Gomi is a significant boost to the Japanese market. Also, with the way Lightweight champion, B.J Penn is running through opponents like water, the division is in need of some fresh new faces to shake things up.
One can argue that ?The Fireball Kid? has looked rather unimpressive in his last few outings but nonetheless, Gomi will have the opportunity to earn back his top ranking against some of the toughest contenders in the 155-pound division.
The real question is who should UFC matchmaker, Joe Silva pair Gomi up against in the Japanese fighter?s first trip into the octagon? The most intriguing matchup that comes to mind would be a bout against former Lightweight champion, Sean ?The Muscle Shark? Sherk.
Despite a shocking defeat at the hands of Frankie Edgar in his last bout at UFC 98, Sherk is a legitimate top 10 lightweight. Back when ?The Muscle Shark? held UFC gold, Gomi was the reigning king of PRIDE and slashing his challengers left to right.
It?s been three years since Zuffa bought PRIDE but the spirit of the Japanese organization still lives on in the hearts of its loyal followers. Fans will still get behind a UFC vs. PRIDE style matchup, even though PRIDE no longer exists. For instance the UFC 93 headliner between former UFC champion Rich Franklin and former PRIDE champion, Dan Henderson was billed as such.
The same type of hype was given to the UFC 79 co-main event featuring light heavyweight sluggers, Chuck ?The Iceman? Liddell and Wanderlei ?The Axe Murderer? Silva. That fight turned out to be an absolute barnburner and voted the second best fight on the Ultimate 100 greatest UFC fights of all time.
While Sherk vs. Gomi wouldn?t be nearly as anticipated as Liddell vs. Silva was, it would still be marketed as two former champions who were once at the top of their division, battling each other to determine who the better man truly is.
From a marketing stand-point, this fight makes sense, plus stylistically it?s an excellent matchup as well. When you put the relentless striking of Gomi up against the explosiveness of Sherk, you?re guaranteed to see some fireworks in the cage.
However it seems the UFC has different plans for Gomi as a rumored bout against Kenny Florian at UFC 111 seems to be in the works. Both Florian and Sherk would be a great fight for Gomi so regardless of whom ?The Fireball Kid? takes on first you?re going to witness a brutal battle.
On the flip side, after Florian?s domination of Clay Guida at UFC 107, the Bostonian should be fighting against a top ranked contender in his next bout on his road to a rematch with Penn for the title. Despite his name recognition, Gomi isn?t that type of fighter right now. It makes more sense to have Florian battle a guy like Frankie Edgar instead considering both are close to title contention in the UFC.
Surely fans wouldn?t mind either way, but Sherk vs. Gomi sounds like the better option. Sherk wants to demonstrate his power and prove that he?s still one of the best in his weight class where as Gomi is looking to remind fans why he was once considered among the pound for pound greatest fighters in this sport.