Kenny Florian's been here before in search of a title shot. He's gotten two cracks at a UFC belt in the past and came up short against Sean Sherk and B.J. Penn. Now he's down at 145 and the target is Jose Aldo. Florian begins his quest this weekend at UFC 131 against Diego Nunes.
Florian is clearly wary of Aldo. When asked if the champ's fight at UFC 129 (unanimous five-round decision) showed him Aldo has weaknesses, Florian was extremely politically correct.
"Aldo still dominated that fight with the exception of that last round. He definitely tired," Florian told "The MMA Insiders" on ESPNRadio1100 in Las Vegas. "Was that the infection? Was that the weight cut? There's a ton of factor that go into that."
"It's always hard anytime you judge a fighter in a fight like that. We go into fights injured all the time. We go into fights with personal problems, with sicknesses, with other things, you're on antibiotics. You never know what's going to happen," Florian said. "It's hard to judge a fighter on one fight. I try to judge a fighter on what he's done his last three or four fights and based on that Aldo is still one of the best three or four fighters pound-for-pound."
Florian faces Diego Nunes in his first trip down to 145. These are always dicey spots. That initial fight at a new weight often result in a less than stellar gas tank. Florian said he was walking around 161 pound last Friday, but he pointed out several times that he's not eating much. At 5-foot-10, featherweight is a feat. If you're hoping to see Florian-Aldo in the future, root for KenFlo to come out this Nunes fight unscathed. That won't be easy. Nunes is 16-1. His only loss came in a grinding grappling match against LC Davis.
Chad Mendes was booked to face Aldo in August, but the champ pulled out with lingering injury issues. You get the feeling that if Florian crushes Nunes, he has a chance to move ahead of Mendes in the pecking order. That wouldn't be fair to Mendes, but it's the more promotable fight.