by Jason Kelly
Former real estate agent Gray Maynard will have the house against him this Saturday at UFC 118 in Boston where he engages with Kenny Florian, who is a native of Dover Massachusetts. This is the first UFC event to penetrate Boston and Joe Silva did not curb exciting fights for another day, aside from the title fight involving BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar, and the boxing/MMA touted bout showcasing James Toney and Randy Couture, we have a clear cut #1 contender fight. Kenny “Kenflo” Florian scrapping Gray “The Bully” Maynard has been getting overshadowed by other matches receiving more attention but, this is a very important fight and a fight that is extremely crucial for Joe Silva to provide.
It’s not often a #1 contender fight occurs without complaints or suggestions from fans of who would be a better fit for the fight yet, in this situation, I don’t hear much grumbling. Gray Maynard is constantly criticized for not finishing, grinding out decisions and there’s proof of that in his 7 UFC wins, 6 have resulted in decisions, also his most recent controversial win over Nate Diaz. Dana White has mentioned Gray’s name in title contention before but, with a win Saturday he will definitely be the #1 contender; Gray has went undefeated his entire career, even though his wins are decisions, for the most part they have been dominate decisions. He also holds the only blemish on current lightweight champion Frankie Edgar’s resume. “The Bully” is deserving of a title shot as it stands now some people argue, although “Kenflo’s” case can be argued the same.
Florian’s 11-3 UFC record speaks for itself as his 3 losses were results of 2 belt fights and a TUF finalist loss, Kenny’s history proves he can make it to the big dance, but never gets his ticket punched. He improves vastly with ever fight, win or lose, he also finishes his opponent every time he wins. “Kenflo” has won 2 consecutive fights, 7 of his last 8, and that lonely loss came from BJ Penn in a title fight; only winning 2 in a row is how I believe this fight materialized. Despite Florian’s impressive wins and resume, other fighters have longer winning streaks and haven’t been given a shot at the strap; it is a must for Kenny to defeat one more opponent and Gray is the best suitor.
The Ultimate Fighter produced Florian and Maynard; Florian proceeded to the finals meanwhile Maynard was defeated by Nate Diaz in the semi-finals of the season he participated on. They don’t share much in common, Maynard being a wrestler from Michigan State while Kenny was a soccer player who graduated from Boston College. Maynard sticks to his “Bully” ways by wrestling challengers down, holding them there while serving classic Extreme Couture ground and pound; if it takes him 15 minutes to do it, a win is a win. Florian however, displays intricate striking and patient, determined BJJ; Kenny looks for the finish and is outstanding at finishing his foes.
On Saturday, the out comings of Florian/Maynard along with the results of Penn/Edgar will eventuate in interesting fights inside the cage and an interesting build up to the fights. Maynard beat Edgar in the UFC which creates the rematch aspect, Florian was assassinated by BJ Penn a year ago and that creates a similar rematch scenario. Maynard was hired by BJ Penn as a wrestling coach when he graduated from Michigan State, he was also BJ’s first pick on TUF, and their past could lead to an interesting matchup if they are the victors. Kenny will have Boston backing him this weekend which may encourage his confidence and distract Maynard but, since when does a “Bully” need fans to beat someone down.
Gray Maynard should of had a title shot a long time ago. KenFlo always comes to fight and ti looks like the only time he chokes is when it's for the belt so it will be a good fight but Maynard is long over due for a title shot and Sat he will finally get it after he wins.
even if maynard loses i think he should get title shot. its a sh!tty situation IMO at 155lbs. most of the fighters will never get past kenflo to be #1 contender but kenflo wasnt good enough to beat penn. hes kind of a gate keeper to the title. i think if penn loses again kenflo should get a title shot again. sometimes certain people just have your number and i think that was the case with penn and kenflo.
How many title shots dose Florian get? I dont even have him in the top three.
Look at john Fitch, the dude is the most solid #1 contender of any weight class but look how long it took for him to get a chance at a second ass whooping ...
Kenflo is a very solid fighter but he's not the 1# contender nor should he be.
Gray Maynard deserves his shot. I would like to see Evan Dunham get the nod if he beats Sherk.