Kenny Florian’s name has emerged as the first potential UFC challenger for recently signed Takanori Gomi.
ESPN’s “MMA Live” show, of which Florian is a host, posted on its Twitter account Saturday that the 33-year-old Boston native will face the former Pride lightweight champion in his promotional debut this year.
When asked Saturday if Florian had been tapped for the job, UFC President Dana White simply said, “Could be. There's a lot of guys that could fight Gomi in that division. I don't know.”
Gomi, 31, had a healthy run for Shooto and then Pride Fighting Championships in Japan, amassing double-digit win streaks in both promotions. A self-professed boxer, Gomi has knocked out former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver and Shooto legend Hayato Sakurai, among others.
Gomi made his U.S. debut for Hawaii’s Rumble on the Rock promotion in October 2003 and was submitted in the third round by current UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn. He also appeared in the U.S. for Pride in February 2007, losing in the second round to Nick Diaz. However, the contest was later ruled a no contest when Diaz tested positive for marijuana.
In recent bouts, Gomi has struggled, dropping two of his last four outings to Sergey Golyaev and Satoru Kitaoka.
A runner-up for the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Florian has won 10 out of his 13 appearances in the Octagon, besting 155-pound standouts Joe Stevenson, Roger Huerta, and Sam Stout along the way. Florian was unsuccessful in his two bids for the promotion’s lightweight crown against Sean Sherk in October 2006 and reigning champion Penn at UFC 101 last August.