UFC Fight Night 21: Florian To Prove He's the UFC's Second-Best Lightweight

Sterling SpiarsAnalyst IMarch 30, 2010

Another fight night! The third card in 11 days with two of them being free. Score! No, as a matter of fact, that's an epic score! Oober pwnage!

When it comes to the UFC organization, the month of March was a slow one. That is, if you were talking about the first three weeks.

Then March 21 came with UFC's first appearance on the Versus Sports Network, followed by UFC 111 shortly thereafter.

On March 31, the UFC will close out the month strong with their Ultimate Fight Night 21, which will be a lead-in to the 11th season of The Ultimate Fighter that is to be coached by Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz.

TUF 11 will go back to the format of, "you fight to get into the house." But this isn't about the newest season of TUF, it's about Ultimate Fight Night 21, so on to the picks.



Kenny Florian vs. Takanori Gomi

"The Fireball Kid," Takanori Gomi was once touted as one of the best lightweight fighters in the world, storming through opponents in Pride FC and Shooto.

In his first 30 fights, Gomi went an unprecedented 27-3 against the best fighters available, with wins over the likes of Jens Pulver, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Hayato Sakurai, and Mitsuhiro Ishida.

The only losses during that time were against B.J. Penn, Joachim Hansen, and Marcus Aurelio. The loss to Aurelio was avenged a few months after the original fight took place.

Gomi was Pride's last official lightweight champion, although there were a few fights where he didn't defend his title, including his loss to Aurelio and his unofficial loss to Nick Diaz.

Then the UFC bought the Pride organization and Gomi fell into obscurity among the mainstream American fans.

He continued on in the much smaller Sengoku promotion with varying results. Some fights he was battering his opponents with his quick hands and well-rounded game, other fights he was showing his decline with sub-par performances.

For Gomi's sake, he had better hope the latter of the last paragraph doesn't show up in his upcoming bout against Kenny "Ken-Flo" Florian.

A common thought among the MMA community is that Florian is one of the most dangerous lightweights in the world.

While he may not be No. 2 in terms of ranks, there is no bones about it that Florian is the second best 155 pound fighter in the UFC. So you want to fight in the big leagues now Gomi?

Florian has been known to finish fights with an extremely polished, well-rounded attack.

On the feet, Florian moves around with nimble agility and can land that big punch at any moment. If he does and his foe hits the mat, it's all over.

No disrespect to other black belts, but Florian is a true jiu jitsu black belt. If he has any sort of advantageous position, the fight will be over in a matter of no time.

This fight will hit the ground at some point, and like Kenny says, "I finish fights!"

Gomi is a tough one to finish, though, especially as a crafty veteran, so Florian earns the nod by unanimous decision in the night's main event.

Winner: Kenny Florian


Roy Nelson vs. Stefan Struve

With 22 fights at the young age of 22, Stefan "The Skyscraper" Struve has already got a wealth of experience under his belt. He is 3-1 inside the octagon, with his only loss coming from Junior dos Santos' uppercut of doom.

Standing at the ozone-scraping height of 6'11", one can't help wonder how much of a factor Struve will be when he receives his adult growth spurt.

Known for his long limbs that can surprisingly stick to any limb like glue, Struve has 14 submission victories out of 19 wins. Luckily for him, because it's going to be needed against his opponent.

Already with an extensive jiu jitsu background helping him out, Struve has been steadily working on his kickboxing attack since his devastating loss to dos Santos; something in which he tried to show off in his last fight against "The Headhunter," Paul Buentello.

His kickboxing attack has always come with diverse results, but a true athlete finds his weaknesses and works on them until they aren't weaknesses anymore.

If Struve can polish up his stand-up game as he grows into his adult frame, he could really become a heavyweight force with his ridiculous reach advantage.

However, his fight against Roy "Big Country" Nelson is coming just a little bit too soon in his career.

The crafty veteran is like a much smaller, fatter, more technical version of Brock Lesnar in terms of game-planning.

Often looked at as an average Joe, Nelson has compiled a 14-4 record with 11 finishes in his career. Not so average now, huh?

A black belt in jiu jitsu, Nelson uses his weight advantage to smother his opponents until they succumb to the lack of oxygen.

If his opponent doesn't leave an opening for a submission, then Nelson usually passes into his favorite position of the crucifix.

Once here, Nelson uses his jiu jitsu prowess and muscle-blubber (apparently it does exist) to maintain control long enough to rain down strikes until the referee steps in. Not very exciting, but effective nonetheless.

Nelson gets his second UFC win by smothering Struve with his gigantic belly. Also known as his typical TKO finish due to strikes.

Winner: Roy Nelson


Nate Quarry vs. Jorge Rivera

Jorge "El Conquistador" Rivera has had a roller-coaster of a UFC career. Filled with ups and downs, Rivera has finally earned two consecutive victories inside the octagon.

Known for his heavy hands, Rivera gets another opponent that won't immediately take him out of his element with a takedown.

Not to say that Rivera is completely out of his element on the ground, but at this elite stage in the UFC, his past submission victories aren't all that impressive, considering they were against small-time fighters.

Since many opponents are pretty scared of his striking, Rivera has worked on his sprawl so he can keep the fight in his realm.

With his dangerous striking, and his heart-wrenching determination due to the passing of his oldest daughter, a Rivera victory is very likely. Especially if his opponent, Nate "The Rock" Quarry fights the way he did in his last bout.

Known as a heavy-handed striker himself, Quarry has evolved into a much more fluid striker over his past few fights. Despite his improvement, he still has some slight fundamental flaws that Rivera could capitalize on.

Like Rivera, Quarry gets an opponent who will slug it out with him rather than take him down to the ground, which is a good thing considering Quarry is similar to Rivera in terms of grappling skills; he's not a fish out of water but isn't necessarily a beast either.

If this fight does hit the ground, it will be after somebody gets rocked. So this fight really comes down to who is more technical with their strikes, or whoever is quicker to land.

With that being said, despite his flaws, it is in this writer's opinion that Quarry will connect with the big punch first. Rivera will be on the ropes and will eventually fall to the mat, where Quarry will rock him once more and finish the fight.

Winner: Nate Quarry


Ross Pearson vs. Dennis Siver

Dennis Siver began his UFC career with a rough 1-3 stretch, and was released soon after. Winning impressively in his post-UFC fight, the German was given another crack at the big leagues.

Back on track, Siver has rattled off three straight UFC victories, including a TKO over heavily-favored Paul Kelly. That victory earned him his second knockout of the night award.

Riding this wave of momentum, Siver will get another chance to prove his all-around striking attack against another Brit, Ross "The Real Deal" Pearson.

Siver is very light on his feet with good head movement and excellent counters. Add in a wide variety of strikes and combinations and Siver could easily pull of the upset of the night in this fight, especially against the less-experienced Pearson.

However, Pearson has had excellent game-planning in his past few performances, avoiding his opponent's strengths.

Pearson will likely stay on the outside and utilize his taekwondo black belt to score points on the feet.

Expect a very patient Pearson to lure Siver out of his counter-mode into clinch range. Once here, watch for the clinch where Pearson will probably use his judo skills to take the fight to the ground to aboid the Siver's hands.

Siver has shown numerous weaknesses off of his back, so look for Pearson to exploit them and finish the fight with a submission after Siver struggles to get back to his feet.

Winner: Ross Pearson



Rafaello Oliveira vs. Andre Winner

Winner: Andre Winner


Ronys Torres vs. Jacob Volkmann

Winner: Ronnys Torres


Rob Emerson vs. Nik Lentz

Winner: Nik Lentz


Gleison Tibau vs. Caol Uno

Winner: Gleison Tibau


Lucio Linhares vs. Yushin Okami

Winner: Yushin Okami


Gerald Harris vs. Mario Miranda

Winner: Gerald Harris


Charlie Brenneman vs. Jason High

Winner: Jason High


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