by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
For three rounds on Saturday night, it appeared as if Kenny Florian might have come up with a gameplan that could give him a chance to wrest the UFC lightweight title away from B.J. Penn in the championship rounds.
But then again, best-laid plans can still go awry… and they did.
Florian, while suffering some damaging blows from Penn over the opening three rounds at UFC 101, was continually able to shoot in, clinch with him, and press him into the fence, utilizing his body weight to try and wear on the champion.
Although Penn appeared to tire as the rounds moved on, he was consistently the one to get the better of the exchanges. He accumulated damage, most effectively with his dirty boxing uppercuts when they met at center cage, and with punishing knees to the thighs and elbows to the head when clinched on the fence.
Penn broke from the formula of the opening three rounds, taking Florian to the mat in round four. He took a few moments to open the challenger up, putting him on the defensive with an assault of short forearms to the face. Penn then passed to full mount, which signaled the beginning of the end. Florian had no choice, but to twist and turn, trying to escape.
Despite being a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Florian soon realized he was in Penn’s world. The champion stayed patient, moving from back mount to front mount and back again, eventually securing a rear naked choke that left Florian with no choice but to relinquish his quest for the belt, tapping out instead of passing out.
Penn dropped to his knees after the fight, as if an enormous weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
“When I woke up this morning I thought, I been in this thing for nine years, what the hell am I doing to myself. And then I realized this is my dream since I was a kid to come here and perform for the fans. I love you guys. I love the fans,” he declared, once again cementing his position at the top of the lightweight mountain.