Before the "Biggest Fight in UFC History" between the age defying Randy Couture and the real life hulk Brock Lesnar takes place, two of the best lightweights in the world will commence battle to determine the No. 1 contender for B.J. Penn's Lightweight crown.
Those two men are Kenny "Ken Flo" Florian and Joe "Daddy" Stevenson. Two men who have both fought for the title, but fell significantly short when their chance arrived.
Florian was given his chance at UFC 64 against "The Muscle Shark" Sean Sherk, but was overwhelmed by Sherks relentless conditioning and unmatchable strength. Although, during the bombardment, he managed to open a massive cut on the side of Sherk's head and showed heart that was worthy of the crown.
Stevenson's chance arrived in Newcastle, England at UFC 80 against the current champ B.J. Penn. Both men were fighting for the vacant title due to Sherk testing positive for steroids after his UFC 73 defense against Hermes Franca.
Stevenson, however, was simply dismantled by the re-energized Penn and he was on the receiving end of a horrendous cut and a picture perfect rear naked choke at the mid way point of the second round. Despite this, beating Stevenson also showed heart worthy of the title, despite the cut he battled on bravely until Penn lured him into the choke.
So who will win? That is extremely hard to answer as both men are very evenly matched in every department. Stand up would, perhaps, go to Florian as he appears to have the crisper muai thai, but Stevenson himself is a threat on the feet.
On the ground, both men are terrors. Florian and Stevenson are both black belts (Stevenson was awarded his a matter of weeks ago.), but in my opinion Florian may just be that much better in this department as well. Stevenson's advantages may come in the wrestling and physical strength department. This could play a major factor as Stevenson may be able to get Florian down and pound on him, however Florian's elbows from bottom are something to behold.
The biggest factor in this fight, however, may be conditioning. This is maybe a clearer department to decipher. Florian, since his loss to Sherk, has improved his conditioning significantly and I feel this may give Florian a decisive advantage.
Most of all this fight will come down to heart, which both men have in abundance and with Dana White announcing, the winner gets a title shot; we can expect a barn burner for sure.