Primer: UFC Fight Night 21

By Jake Rossen Mar 30, 2010
Watching Takanori Gomi in his first career Octagon appearance Wednesday will not necessarily put new fans on a path to understanding Gomi’s abilities. For the middle part of the last decade, Gomi was Japan’s lightweight ace, with blitzkrieg performances against fighters both reputable (Tatsuya Kawajiri) and not (Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett). It was all part of the very Japanese trait of mixing challenges with showcase-type performances, and it worked well: Gomi drew business, and he had a four-plus year stretch with only two defeats in nineteen fights. In MMA, that’s about perfect.

The UFC will be a new arena for Gomi, not only because of Kenny Florian’s potential to stack him up against the Tapout-sponsored fencing, but because Florian will have adequate time to prepare for Gomi’s heavy-handed approach to fighting. (In Japan, fights can be booked on a couple weeks’ notice without drawing many complaints.) Compounding problems are the lethargic rounds Gomi has put in during the past two years, a mixture of career apathy and possibly some age-related slowdown. If he actually wants to be in there against Florian, though, “KenFlo” may not enjoy the experience.

What: UFC Fight Night 21, an 11-bout card from the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, N.C.

When: Wednesday, March 31, at 8 p.m. ET on Spike

Why You Should Care: Because Florian and Gomi will be all business, neither allowing opponents to hang back and get settled in; because Nate Quarry and Jorge Rivera, two middle-aged middleweights, fight with the conviction of 20-year-olds; and because the ornament-shaped Roy Nelson against 6’11” Stefan Struve is a two-page magazine photo spread waiting to happen.

Fight of the Night: Robert Emerson/Nik Lentz, a lightweight dark bout that should earn a spot on the telecast with Emerson throwing out everything he can to avoid Lentz’s tackles. No egos, no sports drink endorsements: just collision.

Hype Quote of the Show: “Just having that extra bit of life experience definitely helps as a fighter…I’m a lot smarter now than I was then. Except physically, I still haven’t grown into my body yet.” -- A self-amused Nelson, to UFC.com.
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