In his first fight at 145 lbs., Kenny Florian showed off better cardio in a unanimous decision win over Diego Nunes. Florian took the judges' cards 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 at UFC 131 in Vancouver on Saturday night. It was a win that didn't please the Canuck-crowd, as Boston-based Florian wore a Boston Bruins jersey to weigh-ins on Friday.
Florian's start wasn't overwhelming as he worked on the takedown in the first round, using a great deal of energy to get Nunes to the ground. Neither fighter conceded the ground, and they returned to stand-up. Nunes tried a spinning back-fist more than once, but was stopped. Florian got a quick double-leg takedown, but before he could use his well-known elbows, Nunes squirmed out from underneath him.
Just before the round ended, Nunes landed a left followed with a right, and knocked Florian to the ground. He followed him to the ground and landed in Florian's guard, but the round ended before either fighter could do anything with it.
Both fighters started the second round aggressively, throwing huge strikes. Florian tried for a single-leg takedown, but Nunes showed fantastic takedown defense and remained on his feet. Nunes finally brought it to the ground and nearly was caught in a Florian triangle choke. Nunes wisely backed out of the guard, and the fighters returned to their feet. Near the end of the round, Florian was successful in getting a quick takedown. He smothered Nunes, throwing short elbows and strikes.
In the third round, a much less-gassed Florian had no trouble with a takedown. He maintained control with a bevy of strikes, and moved to side-control. Finally, the two returned to stand-up where Nunes tried to use huge kicks to win the fight, as he was clearly behind in the scorecards. Florian wasn't having it, as he easily moved out of danger for most of Nunes' strikes. In the last 10 seconds, Nunes rocked Florian with a combination, but it was too little, too late.
This was Florian's first fight at featherweight. Over the course of his UFC career, he has fought at middleweight, welterweight, lightweight and now featherweight, amassing a 14-5 record with two losses in title bouts.
"That was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," Florian said about the weight cut. "I was above 180 lbs."
He sees this win as a stepping stone for a shot at Jose Aldo's championship bout.
"I want to make a run for that belt. I beat one of the top guys in the world. Diego Nunes is going to be a future champ. I wanted to face someone like that and prove that I was one of the best guys in the world," Florian said.
Nunes should not be dismissed. He is just 29 years old, and trains with the tough Brazilian training camp, Nova Uniao. His record falls to 16-2.