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UFC Fight Night Preview: Kenny Florian vs. Takanori Gomi

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Kenny Florian is a testament to how much a fighter can improve over time, especially when they find their ideal weight class. Florian has busied himself with commentating duties and other outside interests in recent years and is wise to be thinking about life after MMA competition. However, there are still very meaningful fights to be had and Wednesday night is going to be one of the biggest opportunities of his career. Florian's solid striking ability is accentuated by his efficient use of movement. His use of elbows when in close range has also helped gain him a reputation of being a dangerous fighter. With his demonstrated striking ability, it's easy to forget that most of Florian's victories have actually come by submission. Gomi will have to be on his toes no matter where this fight takes place and be wary of both Florian's striking and submissions. Kenny bounced back nicely from his failed world title shot against Penn last August by knocking out veteran Clay Guida in December. Prior to his loss to Penn, Florian had reeled off six consecutive victories in the UFC and I don't care what anyone says, that's an impressive accomplishment at that level. Everything appears to be clicking for Florian right now and I like his approach to fighting and I think he has the type of style and game planning ability to push Gomi to the brink in this matchup. Kenny Florian has a professional record of 12-4 with three wins coming by way of knockout and eight wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced thus far is 74.1%.

More after the jump:

SBN coverage of UFC Fight Night 21: Florian vs. Gomi

Takanori Gomi was once the top ranked lightweight MMA fighter on the planet. And it really wasn't that long ago. Gomi is desperate to reclaim his status amongst the elite in the deep lightweight division and the first step to doing that comes on Wednesday night. This is an enormous opportunity for Gomi not only because of the chance to pit his skills against an elite lightweight, but also because this is a nationally televised bout that will give him much needed exposure to an American fanbase that likely knows little about him. It will be interesting to see how the added dimension of being able to use elbows might compliment Gomi's skillset. Gomi is a powerful wrestler and could try to test Florian on the ground early. Also, Gomi has knockout power in his hands so Florian will have to respect that aspect of his game. The 31-year-old "Fireball Kid" has slipped (even by his standards), but he's now on a 2 fight win streak and is hoping to stay more active in the year to come and show the world that he still has the ability that propelled him to prominence years ago and had many hailing him as the greatest Japanese MMA fighter thus far. Takanori Gomi has a professional record of 31-5 with eleven wins coming by way of knockout and six wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced thus far is 67.9%.

The lightweight world championship won't be contested for another ten days but fans will be treated to an intriguing matchup Wednesday night. Florian is one of the sport's best 155 pounders and is rarely in a boring fight. Plus, most fans are wondering if Gomi will be able to recapture the form that led him to become one of the greatest lightweights of all time. I must say that I was a little surprised when it was first announced that Gomi's first opponent in the Octagon would be Florian. I just think that Kenny is a bad matchup for Gomi at this point. Florian is dangerous while working his strikes from a distance, from the clinch and even on the ground (just ask Joe Lauzon). I think that Gomi will be able to make it to the final bell but my guess is that Florian will give him a rough welcome to the UFC and my prediction is that Florian takes this win by unanimous decision.