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With B.J. Penn roughly two fights from shutting down the UFC's entire lightweight division, there's not a lot of time to coddle Takanori Gomi: According to ESPN's "MMA Live," Gomi will face perpetual contender Kenny Florian on March 31 in North Carolina.
From a promotional standpoint, it's a high-wire act. If Florian beats Gomi -- and he's certainly the more polished-looking of the two at the moment -- the UFC has euthanized a possible contender without much upside. Florian has contested the 155-pound title twice over. Without a seriously impressive series of wins and a new champion installed, he's not really up for renewal.
The information in the margins of this deal is interesting: Gomi, while on a bit of a decline in recent years, is still a popular figure in Japan. The fact that the UFC could match or better a deal to keep him there is some depressing testimony on the decaying fight scene overseas. Sengoku, Gomi's former home, won't run its first 2010 show until March; DREAM has yet to announce a schedule.