Kenny Florian made the drop from the lightweight division to the 145-pound weight class hoping to make a run at the title. He moved a step closer to that goal at UFC 131 with a unanimous decision win over Diego Nunes.
In the first round Nunes welcomed Florian to the featherweight division by beating the former lightweight contender to the punch and put him on his back-side with a combination.
At the end of the first stanza, the move down for Florian wasn’t looking like a great career move.
He picked up the pace in the second round, pressing the action. After catching a kick by Nunes, Florian fought for a takedown, but ended being taken down himself. Nunes was unable to mount much of an attack while in top position, though.
With 1:15 showing on the clock, Florian secured a takedown and battered the Brazilian with punches and elbows.
In the final round Florian got Nunes to the ground early in the round. After some softening up his opponent with ground and pound, “Ken-Flo” advanced to side control. Nunes was able to eventually excape and went on the attack.
Florian put his jab to work as Nunes lunged forward with desperation punches. One of them landed in the closing seconds and staggered Florian to one knee, but it was too little too late.
The judges rendered Florian the unanimous winner (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
Following the fight, Florian said cutting down to featherweight was the hardest thing he’s ever done in his life. With his first win in the division, Florian reiterated his intentions at 145-pounds.
“I want to make a run for that belt,” he said. “I beat one of the top guys in the world. Diego Nunes is going to be a future champion. He’s as tough as they come, and I wanted to face someone like that and prove that I’m one of the best featherweights in the world.”