Florian faced a very pro-Nunes crowd on Saturday night after turning the host-crowd against him at the weigh-ins on Friday by supporting his hometown Boston Bruins. Despite picking up the win, he couldn't get them back on his side throughout, but the victory likely secured him his third title shot in the UFC, this time against Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo this fall.
Nunes started the fight off well, avoiding several takedown attempts in the first round, cracking Florian late and scoring a takedown of his own, albeit brief. But Florian took the fight over in the second, cutting Nunes open with elbows on the ground after Nunes took him down and damaging him badly in the last minute with a vicious assault in Nunes' guard.
In the third, Florian looked to be cruising to the decision, getting another takedown and delivering more damage, but Nunes got to his feet with time to spare and made things interesting. In a quick exchange in the final ten seconds, Nunes nearly dropped Florian with a two punch combo, but the round came to an end before he could capitalize.
Florian lasting to the end of the round capped off a win in his first fight at 145 lbs., a cut which he called the hardest thing he'd ever done in his life. He became the first fighter to take a fight in four weight classes in the UFC, and he's got wins in three of them.
Penick's Analysis: This was a very good fight, and a good showing from both guys. Nunes had his moments in the fight, notably in the first round and the last ten seconds, but Florian put on a great performance in between, and looked to be in great shape throughout. He'll face a tougher striker in Nunes' teammate Aldo, but I don't know that Aldo's takedown defense is necessarily better than Nunes', which could be to Florian's advantage. Either way, that will be a very good Featherweight Title fight this fall.
[Kenny Florian art by Cory Gould (c) MMATorch.com]