Kenny Florian lost his first UFC title shot against Sean Sherk. On Saturday night, in his homestate of Massachusetts, he was fighting for another title shot, but his fight vs. Gray Maynard looked a lot like the Sherk fight.
Maynard worked his boxing early in each round and then, when he chose to take the fight to the ground, it went to the ground. Florian couldn't get off his back and when it was standing, he did very little offensively. Maynard impressed the judges and was able to pull the mild upset via unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 on all three cards. The winner of the fight was promised a title shot. Now Maynard can sit back and watch the main event, where UFC lightweight champ Frank Edgar defends the strap against B.J. Penn.
"I wanted to try and make him chase me -- he doesn't chase a lot -- then throw two shots at a time and eventually try for the takedown," said Maynard (11-0, 8-0 UFC).
Maynard played that game for the first four minutes of the fight and then scored his first takedown. It was a sign of things to come. Not only did Florian (14-5, 11-4 UFC) struggle to get back to his feet, but he posed no danger from his back. The former Michigan State wrestler did the same thing in the second round and landed a key left hand followed by a right uppercut with 2:30 left in the round. The uppercut opened up a cut over Florian's left eye and affected his vision. Seconds later, Maynard scored another takedown and made a bloody mess of Florian. It was more of the same in the third. In the final 90 seconds, Florian threatened with a pair of omaplata attempts, but Maynard stayed patient and powered out of both.
"I'm feeling good," said Maynard, as he was being booed by the pro-Florian crowd. "I'm really glad to get to the spot where I get a shot at the title."
Florian, a native of Westwood, Mass., and a Boston College grad, has to go back to the drawing board. Maynard moves onto to the title shot, where he could face Edgar. He beat Edgar back in 2008 at Ultimate Fight Night 13 and came away with a win.