(Props: Genghis Con)
Tonight’s UFC Fight Night card will feature three fresh prospects trying to make their names and one MMA legend — all of whom will be competing in the UFC for the first time in their careers. Which ones will rise to the challenge, and which ones will succumb to Octagon jitters and dangerous opponents? Get to know them below and let us know what you think…
TAKANORI GOMI (LW)
Experience: 31-5-0 record w/1 no-contest, with multiple appearances in PRIDE, Shooto, and Sengoku. Notable victories over Tatsuya Kawajiri, Hayato Sakurai, Jens Pulver, and Mitsuhiro Ishida. Most recently won a unanimous decision over Tony Hervey at Vale Tudo Japan 2009 last October.
Will be fighting: Kenny Florian (12-4, 10-3 UFC)
Lowdown: Only the noobiest of TUF noobs would need an introduction to the Fireball Kid, who has already secured his place as one of the greatest lightweight fighters of all time. A legendary former champion in both PRIDE and Shooto, Gomi unfortunately hasn’t looked the same since his gogoplata loss/marijuana no-contest against Nick Diaz in February 2007, as he’s suffered a couple of surprising defeats and struggled to put away opponents that he would have smashed in his prime. Though he vows to "create a ruckus" in the UFC, this bit of info is somewhat troubling: "I don’t have a cage in my gym, but I understand that the cage can either be used for me or be used against me. I’ll try not to think about the cage too much as I fight in it.” He’ll also need to adjust to elbow strikes on the ground, something he hasn’t had to deal with in Japan — which could become a painful factor against Ken-Flo.
MARIO MIRANDA (MW)
Experience: 11-0 record (9 wins by stoppage), in various regional promotions. Holds wins over UFC vets Rick Story and Joe Vedepo. Last fight was a first-round submission win via kimura against Lorenzo Hood in August 2009.
Will be fighting: Gerald Harris (14-2, 1-0 UFC)
Lowdown: A former Brazilian wrestling champion, Miranda moved to the U.S. to reinvent himself after failing in the trials for the 2000 Olympic Games, but had no plans to begin a career in fighting until he came across the AMC Pankration camp near Seattle and was inspired by Matt Hume and Charlie Pearson. Miranda quickly adapted his wrestling background to MMA, built up an undefeated record competing as high as heavyweight, and won a championship belt in the SportFight promotion at 185 pounds. He has every intention of continuing his success in the big leagues: "I’m a wrestler, but I consider myself a complete fighter that knows how to adjust to any situation. I know [Harris is] a great wrestler, aggressive, and I’m ready for it all. As for his stint on TUF and his experience in the UFC, I don’t see them as advantages. I’ve been around legendary fighters since 1997, and what for many is new, for me is routine. I know many idols of this sport and his Octagon’s experience isn’t a problem for me."
CHARLIE BRENNEMAN (WW)
Experience: 10-1 record in various East Coast promotions. Most recently scored a first-round TKO over Phillip Wyman last October.
Will be fighting: Jason High (see below)
Lowdown: Even if Brenneman’s fight makes it to the broadcast, it won’t be the first time he’s appeared on television — the AMA Fight Club product was actually a winner on the first season of Pros vs. Joes. A former Division I wrestler at Lock Haven University, "the Spaniard" suffered his only loss in a close decision against current UFC up-and-comer John Howard in 2008. He cares deeply about his hair.
JASON HIGH (WW)
Experience: 9-2 record (7 wins by stoppage), with appearances in Affliction and DREAM, and notable victories over Kevin Burns and Andre Galvao. Hasn’t competed since last July, when he was knocked out by Marius Zaromskis in the finals of DREAM’s welterweight grand prix.
Will be fighting: Charlie Brenneman
Lowdown: Not that High isn’t a good acquisition, but it’s interesting that the UFC decided to pick him up after a year in which he ended up on the wrong end of two highlight reel knockouts. A former EMT, the Kansas City Bandit trains out of the Bodyshop Fitness Team in Lakewood, California, and describes his style as "full contact wrestling." His goal for this evening? “I just hope to get the night off to a great start and have everybody wondering why I’m not on TV."