The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s “Fight Night” series of events, especially in the early years, were always heavily stocked with veterans of “The Ultimate Fighter.” This was completely intentional, of course, as there was a built-in synergy; fans who had gotten to know the likes of Chris Leben and Josh Koscheck through Spike TV were the perfect target audience to continue following their exploits through free cards on the same channel.
However, even by the standards of an early “Ultimate Fight Night,” the show that went down on Sept. 19, 2007 was a major showcase. Half of the 18 fighters at UFC Fight Night 11 had been on the show, and seven of the nine fights were won by “TUF” alumni. Incidentally, the two who lost were both products of Season 4, which had featured a cast of former UFC fighters attempting to come back.
In the main event, Season 4 welterweight competitor Din Thomas met Season 1 middleweight runner-up Kenny Florian in a lightweight matchup. Despite their "TUF" weight classes, both men were 155-pounders by preference, both had been close to the title and each likely saw the other as an important step on the road back to contention. Florian had faced Sean Sherk the previous year in an unsuccessful attempt to win the newly revived lightweight belt. Florian had lost to Sherk, who had then been stripped of the title after testing positive for a banned performance enhancer at his first title defense, so the belt was once again vacant.
Thomas was no stranger to the vagaries of the UFC lightweight title either, having been part of the failed four-man mini-tourney that left the throne vacant for several years before Sherk and Florian’s fight. In fact, it had been the UFC’s lack of investment in the division that had led Thomas to depart—not only was there no champ for four years, there were no lightweight fights at all for nearly two.
The fight was gearing up to be a good one, as the offensive-minded contenders exchanged strikes and takedowns in the early going, but it was over before it really took off. Florian squashed a takedown attempt by “Dinyero,” laid on some vicious punches from behind and then locked up a rear-naked choke for the tap at 4:31 of the first round. It looked like a dominant victory—and it was—but replay revealed that Thomas had injured his knee shooting for the takedown. Nonetheless, Florian had notched a first-round stoppage of a solid veteran, as well as his third straight win, putting the Sherk loss even further in the rearview.