Takanori Gomi

According to MMAFighting.com, the UFC has landed former number one lightweight Takanori Gomi.

Takanori Gomi, once considered to be one of the best lightweight fighters in the world, has signed a multi-fight contract with the UFC. MMAFighting.com learned of the acquisition from sources on Friday.

No word on when and where Gomi will make his debut for the UFC. The organization has yet to officially announce the signing.

If this signing had happened a few years ago, this would be much bigger news. Gomi was once king of the lightweight division during his PRIDE reign in 2004-2006. After PRIDE collapsed, Gomi took a ton of heat for not fighting top competition and eventually lost two fights in Sengoku he was expected to win. At that point, most outlets dropped him from their top ten lists.

Nevertheless, this signing is still very significant. BJ Penn is running out of compelling challengers in the UFC’s lightweight division. If Gomi can string together a couple impressive victories and prove he’s still got it, it could set up a big lightweight title fight between the two down the road. It is worth noting though that Penn already beat Gomi once in 2003.

Image via CombatLifestyle.com

Update: Ever since news broke that Takanori Gomi had signed with the UFC, rumors have been swirling that Kenny Florian will be his first opponent. Dana White confirmed the possibility at the UFC 108 post-fight press conference.

However, when told that ESPN’s “MMA Live” program posted a Twitter message saying co-host and top lightweight contender Kenny Florian (12-4 MMA, 10-3 UFC) could be Gomi’s first challenge, White smirked.

“Could be,” White said when asked by MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) on Saturday. “There’s a lot of guys in that division who could fight Gomi, though.”

It would be a great match-up if it happens. A few years ago, it would be Gomi by beatdown, no questions asked. Today’s a different story though. Florian has improved his game dramatically while Gomi has essentially done the opposite.

The other half of the rumor is the winner would get another shot at BJ Penn.