Diego Nunes made Kenny Florian work hard for his first win at featherweight, but despite a tough weight cut it was Florian’s superior conditioning that helped him to prevail at UFC 131.
There was two distinct striking styles on show here in the first round, with Nunes going for eye-catching strikes like spinning backfists and high kicks, while Florian was opting for more orthodox strikes, particularly the jab.
Both men also looked to mix things up a little with takedowns, and they both managed one apiece, but on both occasions the other man was quickly back to their feet.
So it was relatively even stuff until the final 30 seconds when Nunes connected with a left hook that staggered Florian to the canvas, though he had still had the wherewithal to throw up a triangle though he couldn’t find it.
The major action of round two takes place on the mat, with Nunes being the first to score a takedown, but then being punished by Florian’s trademark vicious elbows from the bottom which open up a cut on Nunes scalp and a triangle attempt which he manages to break free from.
As the round progresses Nunes appears to be feeling the pace of the fight and Florian takes advantage by continuing to push the pace and land a solid takedown attempt and controls the action from top control, landing some solid ground and pound.
Onto the final round and despite the weight cut Florian is the fresher fighter and highlights that by securing another big takedown.
Nunes is getting worked over on the mat for much of the first half of the round and looks to be fading out of the fight, but finally he gets back to his feet and to his credit he’s still trying to win the fight, throwing caution to the wind as he swings for the fences.
Florian is working behind his jab though and seems to have the round in the bank until the closing moments of the fight when he gets caught with a hard left hand from Nunes followed up a glancing right that puts him down on one knee for a split second before he gets back up again.
Nunes put in a really good account of himself here and had Florian wobbled twice, but over the course it seems that Florian has done enough in the final rounds to secure victory, and indeed he secures a unanimous decision victory (29-28 x2, 30-27).
Afterwards Florian admitted that the cut down to 145lbs was the toughest thing he’s ever done in his life, but it may have paid off as he now could should be in with a strong chance of earning a title shot against Jose Aldo.