VANCOUVER, BC, June 11 - He has dropped an astounding four weight classes in his pro career. On Saturday he was taunted by chants insulting his Boston heritage and hit the deck from a punch in round one. But in the face of all that adversity, Kenny Florian dug deep and somehow escaped with a win over highly-ranked featherweight Diego Nunes in the UFC 131 co-main event at Rogers Arena Saturday night. See post-fight interview
Judges scored it 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 for the Bostonian, who used takedowns and a well-rounded standup attack to hold off one of UFC featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo’s teammates.
“That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” “Kenflo” said afterwards inside the Octagon to a chorus of boos. “Vancouver, despite the Bruins, thank you, I love you.”
Florian, a two-time contender for the UFC lightweight crown who was competing at 145 pounds for the first time in his career, actually seemed to get stronger and more determined midway through the fight whereas Nunes visibly slowed down just a tad.
The ever-dangerous Nunes bled profusely behind his ear and constantly threatened Florian with spinning backfists, high kicks and punching combinations. Twice he took Florian down and he even nailed Florian in the final 10 seconds of the fight and caused him to briefly drop to a knee before popping to his feet.
“I want to make a run for that belt,” a relieved Florian said. “Diego Nunes is going to be a future champion. He’s as tough as they come.”
Demian Maia vs. Mark Munoz
In a battle of top 10 middleweights, Mark Munoz survived a potent right hand that wobbled him to nudge by former title challenger Demian Maia. Maia, a former world champion Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, showed much improved standup, but Munoz stepped up his game with takedowns in the second and third rounds – as well as holding his own in the standup department and popping Maia with shots that forced the Brazilian to retreat at times. Munoz was particularly effective with ground and pound in the second round after stuffing Maia’s takedowns and making him pay with heavy leather to the hips, legs and body. See post-fight interview
Round three was a coin-toss, with Munoz – a former NCAA Division wrestling champ – scoring a takedown, but Maia threatening with a choke. The standup was back and forth in a very close round.
The judges saw it 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 for Munoz.
“He caught me in that first round, I was like ‘Wooaahh,’” Munoz said. “I was doing that stanky leg. Man, he landed a good punch in that first round.”
John-Olav Einemo vs. Dave Herman
Dave Herman and John-Olav Einemo let it all hang loose in a back-and-forth eight-minute war that became frontrunner for Fight of the Night. A former Abu Dhabi World Champion grappler who is feared for his ground game, Einemo succeeded at taking Herman down early but was unable to hold him there. Einemo, who trains with Strikeforce heavyweights Alistair Overeem and Sergei Kharitanov, seemed comfortable from that point on to engage Herman in a slugfest – despite Herman’s 14 wins via TKO. Einemo found a home early for his straight right hand and Herman, a 6’5” specimen who bears a striking facial resemblance to Super Bowl winning quarterback Peyton Manning, countered with leg kicks. See post-fight interview
The action intensified in the second round with more straight right hands from Einemo and a feisty and resilient Herman answering with a leg kick that floored the towering Norwegian. The suspense thickened when Einemo cracked “Pee Wee” Herman with a hard knee to the face and followed it up with a right hand for good measure. A bloodied and smiling Herman, who replaced Shane Carwin in this matchup and was making his UFC debut along with Einemo, responded with a furious knee of his own to Einemo’s grill and a hard left hand. It was topsy-turvy fireworks the rest of the way, with fans wondering who would crumble first. Two knees by Herman to Einemo’s chin produced the answer. Einemo fell to the canvas and Herman chased him there and rained down punches until the referee halted the action at 3 minutes 19 seconds of round two.
It was Herman’s 21st win in 23 fights. Both men were awarded Fight of the Night bonuses for their crowd-pleasing war.
Donald Cerrone vs. Vagner Rocha
It’s a safe bet that Vagner Rocha will be walking with a limp Sunday morning. Donald Cerrone is the reason why. “Cowboy” repeatedly stuffed the submission artist’s takedown attempts and punished Rocha’s lead leg for three rounds en route to a commanding unanimous decision win. On occasion, Cerrone tagged Rocha with punching combinations, but opted to play it safe with dozens of low kicks that left Rocha gimpy late in the fight and even switching stances for relief. Late in the third round, with Rocha slowed and hobbled, Cerrone amped up the assault on Rocha’s chin and floored the Brazilian. The lanky Coloradan, known for his Fight of the Night worthy performances, conceded afterward that he opted to be conservative against a very dangerous BJJ black belt. See post-fight interview
UFC 131 Main Card Results: Florian a Fine Fit at Featherweight
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