1. Mental Breakdown/Momentum Dump
Kenny Florian did a lot of talking before this fight took place. I’m sure by now you have all heard the “B.J. Penn is the master; I’m going to kill the master” spiel that Florian said after his fight with Joe Stevenson last fall.
Although that comment sure got Penn’s attention, it was another comment that got mine. During the countdown show, Florian said he was going to finish Penn in the first round. A comment like this I'm sure put a lot of pressure on Florian and between this and his warrior mindset, the pressure may have been too much.
Florian came out expecting to implement his game plan and tire Penn out, however it quickly became apparent that this was not going to happen. After Penn showed an ability to stop the takedown and strike in the clinch, Florian was left with little else to offer and this was quite a degrading thing to realize part way through a fight.
By the fourth round, the discouragement was clearly evident in Florian’s face. Physically he was not tired, but mentally Florian had nothing left, and this is why Penn took him down and submitted him.
2. Poor Gameplan/You’re Not GSP
No disrespect to Mark Delagrotte or anyone else in Florian’s camp, but his game plan going into this fight was poor. From the outset it was clear that Florian was not looking to strike with Penn and wanted to wear him out along the cage and eventually take him down.
This is the same game plan that Florian’s good friend GSP implemented in January against Penn victoriously, however simply put, Kenny Florian is not Georges St. Pierre.
St. Pierre is one of the best wrestlers in mixed martial arts. On top of this, he is a large welterweight. These are two things that Kenny Florian does not have. Florian has solid Jiu-Jitsu and amazing Muay-Thai, but his wrestling has proven to be rather weak.
He had absolutely no luck in taking Penn down and quite honestly it barely looked as though he was trying. He never got his hips low and tried to sweep Penn’s legs. He planned on wearing Penn out, but Penn has proven over his last few fights that his cardio is less of a factor than it once was.
3. B.J. Penn Is Just Plain More Skilled/Big Fight Experience
Florian simply could not do anything to hurt Penn throughout the fight. Penn sat back and wore Florian out mentally through his defensive mindset. All it took from Penn was a defensive game plan and striking out of the clinch to wear Florian out and dominate the fight.
Penn used his big fight experience to stay calm even in compromising positions, pick his shots, wear Florian out, and take him down for the submission.