Red Ink: Penn vs. Florian

By Jake Rossen Aug 8, 2009
“It’s time to kill the master” is not the most sporting of declarations, but with six straight wins -- and only one decision -- in the UFC since 2007, Kenny Florian has sweat and bled enough to earn a little hyperbole.

More than a few observers see Florian as the ultimate example of a non-gifted athlete who clawed his way into success and respect. (And they’re right: there’s no video footage of Florian jumping out of a pool, which means he’s practically useless physically.) Lightweight titleholder B.J. Penn has seen more, done more, and is more. Right?

Both Florian and Penn beat Joe Stevenson convincingly; Penn hammered Sean Sherk, who defeated Florian. Otherwise, Penn hasn’t been nearly as active in the lightweight division as Florian has. It’s likely he would’ve handled Florian’s opposition -- Roger Huerta, Joe Lauzon, Din Thomas -- but reputations aren’t earned on hypotheticals, only what you’re killed and eaten. And right now, Florian’s appears to be the heartier appetite.

What It Means: For Florian, the chance to monetize the status that comes with holding a UFC strap in seminars, how-to videos, appearances, and merchandise; for Penn, an opportunity to erase “Greasegate” from memory.

Third-Party Investor: Gray Maynard, an “Ultimate Fighter” recruit who holds a perfect record outside of that house and appears due for a shot.

Who Wins: Florian’s commitment to the sport and physical maturation has been inspiring, and he may even give Penn some trouble standing. But the difference here is Penn’s aversion to being controlled: he can decide where this fight happens. And if he decides he wants Florian on the bottom, it’ll go there. Penn by decision.
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