Thursday, April 1, 2010

The King Without a Crown

In the sport of mixed martial arts, there was always a "king without a crown" for certain periods of time. The last fighter of note who had that role was Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic until he won the PRIDE 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix. Since then, no one has cleared out a division, but has failed to capture a title. Then along came Kenny Florian. Florian has evolved and grown so much since he was a competitor on the original Ultimate Fighter. Since dropping down to 155 lbs., Florian has wins over the likes of Sam Stout, Din Thomas, Joe Lauzon, Roger Huerta, Joe Stevenson, Clay Guida, and most recently, former PRIDE Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi this past Wednesday at a UFC Fight Night event. His only two loses during that time were to Sean Sherk and BJ Penn, both were ironically for the UFC Lightweight Championship. With two straight stoppage victories over top contenders Guida and Gomi, many are starting to believe Florian is ready for another run at the title, but can he finally get over the hump?

Much like Cro Cop from 2004 - 2006, Florian has cleaned out the vast majority of the division's top contenders, but has failed to gain a title. Florian looked overwhelmed by Sherk's relentless pace, and looked completely outclassed against Penn (but then again, who doesn't at lightweight?). With the way Sherk has looked in his most recent outings, a rematch with Florian may go differently. However, it seems Gray Maynard may be on the horizon for Florian, as Maynard called out the winner of Florian/Gomi in a recent interview. That would be an excellent fight, which at this point would determine the true #1 contender for BJ Penn's title. If that match comes to fruition and Florian gets another shot at the belt, he'd better hope BJ gets bored of 155 and moves to welterweight. Otherwise, he'll end up being the Rich Franklin of the lightweight division.

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