Photo by Anton Tabuena
As long as The Fireball Kid says "yes", Diego Sanchez's return to lightweight will be against Takanori Gomi this March in Japan.
The UFC's return to Japan is close to having its first major fight booked. Diego Sanchez has lpanned his return to lightweight for several months, but he did not have an opponent scheduled. Today on Twitter he announced he will fight Takanori Gomi, provided Gomi accepts the fight.
The UFC has not officially announced this (probably because Gomi, as of this writing, hasn't verbally agreed yet) but if it does go through this is probably at least the co-main event if not main event of UFC on FUEL 8 in Saitama, Japan.
Sanchez was a former #1 contender at lightweight, and won FOTN honors against Joe Stevenson and Clay Guida. Through those wins he fought B.J. Penn for the title at UFC 107, but was mauled in one of the least competitive title fights in UFC history. His 2nd stint at welterweight was filled with exciting, brutal wars, including a controversial decision win over Martin Kampmann and a close decision loss to Jake Ellenberger. Now he's returning to 155 lbs where the number of fun fights for him are limitless. The question is can he contend in a division that is substantially deeper than the one he had in 2009?
Former (and only) PRIDE lightweight champion Gomi defeated Mac Danzig in a great FOTN bout at UFC on FUEL 6 in Macau, giving him his first two-fight win streak in the UFC. Prior to this win streak his only real UFC highlight was KOing Tyson Griffin in August 2010, otherwise his losses were not competitive and he was submitted in all of them. But the Danzig fight was the best and most complete performance he's had in quite some time and shows he still has something left at age 34 and after 40+ pro fights.
This is an excellent fight and I hope Gomi accepts and we get ourselves another barnburner.