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No Obstacle Too Great for Kenny Florian

| June 12, 2011 | Reply

There are few fighters willing to test themselves as frequently as Kenny Florian (16-5) has, but the payoff has been worth the seemingly endless drive. “Kenflo” came to public attention as a finalist in the Middleweight (185lb) bracket of the original “Ultimate Fighter”, but it wasn’t until his runs at Welterweight (170 lbs) and the resurrected Lightweight (155lb) divisions that Florian flourished and built himself to two title shots at Lightweight.

Though he failed to capture the gold on either occasion, he remained a top fighter in the division. With his decision to drop 10 more pounds and tread into the dynamic Featherweight division, many questions and points of speculation surrounded; was Florian harming himself with his championship aspirations?

His featherweight debut against top-ranked Diego Nunes was to be the answer to that question. Nunes, who had only one previous loss and a notable win over former-champion Mike Thomas Brown was a stark test for any fighter at 145 pounds, much less someone coming off of an injury (in which Florian spiked to above 180) and making such a drastic cut in weight for the first time.

Florian put every doubt to rest, as he was as sharp, aggressive and well-conditioned as he has ever been, taking a respectable unanimous decision from Nunes. The first round was tedious, as Florian initially struggled for takedowns, whilst getting taken down himself. A beautifully timed power-double sent Nunes to his back, as Florian came alive; a well-timed Nunes left at the end of the round, however, dropped Florian, essentially making a round clearly to his advantage questionable.

The beginning of the second round was more of the same, but as Kenny pressured, Nunes began to fold and falter. For someone who was making such a drastic cut, Kenny was the better-conditioned man in the latter half of the fight, constantly pressuring Nunes, who, though visibly tired, was still fighting with his heart and every intention of winning. Despite being dropped to a knee late in the third round from a wild exchange, Florian sealed the decision.

The looming storyline is Kenny’s supposed third title shot, this one being against Featherweight Kingpin Jose Aldo.

This fight is an interesting one, as Kenny is going to be about as good a striker or jiu-jitsu player as Aldo has faced; Aldo’s last defense against Hominick was a tremendous display of martial arts, and undoubtedly one of the best fights in combat sports history. The Brazilian, however, showed a lack of endurance and dropped a rather one-sided final round to the challenger. Florian is more than capable of taking advantage of such a situation, as his measured aggression has made nearly everyone he has faced crumble. Doing so to Aldo is no short order, but with a size advantage such as the one Florian possesses, there is a compelling fight brewing.

Title shots and divisional run talk aside, at UFC 131, a veteran fighter took on yet another obstacle and conquered it impressively. Kenny Florian may be destined to finally set his foot down as the best fighter in a division, or he may very well be the best fighter to never hold a major title. Either way, “Kenflo” is always waiting and ready to prove his talents.

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Tags: Diego Nunes, featherweight, Jose Aldo, Kenny Florian, MMA, UFC, UFC 131

Category: Exclusive, MMA, UFC

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