They say you can't go home again but that appears to be what Japanese MMA legend Takanori Gomi is trying to do.
Monday, the all-time lightweight great posted a message to his Instagram account, suggesting that he was angling to return to his native Japan for a fight on New Year's Eve.
“Return to the Japanese ring soon #NewYearsEve,” Gomi wrote in Japanese.
Gomi last fought at UFC Fight Night 117 on Sept. 23 in Saitama, Japan, a day after his 39th birthday, where was knocked out in 90 seconds by South Korea's Dong Hyun “Maestro” Kim. An Ultimate Fighting Championship source confirmed to Sherdog.com Monday that the Kim bout was the last on Gomi's contract.
The loss to Kim was Gomi's fifth straight first-round stoppage loss inside the Octagon, four of which have come by way of knockout. Prior to his September 2014 loss to Myles Jury to begin that losing skid, “The Fireball Kid” had never been finished via strikes in his 16-year, 45-fight career.
A former Pride Fighting Championship and Shooto world champion, Gomi signed with the UFC in 2010, debuting in a March 2010 third-round submission loss to Kenny Florian. Over his seven-year Octagon tenure, marking the twilight of his career, Gomi posted a 4-9 UFC record.
Gomi's social media hinting would seem to suggest a desire to sign with the Rizin Fighting Federation, which has scheduled dates on Dec. 29 and 31 at Saitama Super Arena, as the company has done for the previous two years. Antonio Inoki's hybrid pro-wrestling and MMA promotion, Inoki Genome Federation, promoted its “Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye” series on Dec. 31 from 2011 to 2015 but didn't produce a New Year's Eve show last year.
Gomi has not fought an MMA bout on New Year's Eve since brutally knocking out Mitsuhiro Ishida in 74 seconds at Pride's “Shockwave 2006.” However, last Dec. 31, Gomi did take on former K-1 Max star Masato Kobayashi in an exhibition kickboxing bout as part of the Tokyo Broadcasting System's “Kyokugen 2016” event.