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UFC 101: Making The Case For Kenny Florian Against BJ Penn

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Kenny Florian states his own case:

I think my overall game is going to be better than his.  I’m a more complete fighter.  I incorporate more of a complete striking game, whereas B.J.’s more of just a boxer.  But I have to go out and prove it on August 8.  I truly believe that I’m better everywhere and I’m a better conditioned athlete.  I feel like it’s going to be a tough fight, but I’m ready.  I’m ready for five rounds of hell.

Many fans will argue that point and say that BJ Penn is the more complete fighter and it's a fair argument to make.  You could really go back and forth all day because both fighters have considerable skill and their weaknesses.  However, being a complete fighter goes way beyond physical skills in my opinion.  Vitor Belfort is a prime example of that.  I've been calling for a Florian victory over BJ Penn every since his win over Joe Stevenson, and I'm still calling it.  Check out why after the jump.

UFC 101: Declaration coverage

The "X-Factors"

  • UFC 94-A lot of people would look at the beating that GSP laid on BJ Penn and say that it would add fuel to BJ's fire in regards to his next fight.  There may be some truth in that, but I think it benefits Kenny Florian more in this instance.  Before that fight with GSP he had never really been dominated like that before, sure he had lost some fights but he had never been dominated like that.  I think that beating took away some of the invincibility that BJ Penn may have had to some fighters, similar to the way Buster Douglas KO'ing Mike Tyson.  Most fighters just didn't look at Tyson the same after that, and I think it's the same mindset that Florian has now.  Not to mention that BJ Penn is still talking about GSP 7 months later, I still don't think he's over that fight.  True, the fight was at 170, but I don't buy into the notion that there's a big difference between BJ Penn at lightweight and welterweight.  Kenny Florian watched GSP beat BJ Penn and began to actually believe he could 'kill the master'
  • Game Planning-Kenny Florian is a much better game planner than BJ Penn.  In fact, BJ Penn has often stated that he doens't really have a game plan as he goes into a fight.  I would be willing to bet that Kenny Florian has a list of positions that he wants to avoid, and things he needs to accomplish to win this fight.  BJ Penn will probably say something to the effect of, "I don't know how I'm going to do it, I just wanna knock Kenny Florian out."   If you don't think game plans are important at this level in the sport, just see Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida at UFC 98.
  • Fight Camps-While it's true that BJ Penn has brought in some new guys to help him train for this fight, we still don't know how much impact they'll have.  I mean all we have seen is BJ Penn doing 20 second video clips of him standing in front of the camera or jumping out of water that is 3 feet deep.  Kenny Florian has been training for this fight for over 6 months(including a stint with GSP), all along developing that game plan to perfection. 

In regards to keys to the fight, I think Florian needs to do the following:

  • He needs to avoid being on his back with BJ Penn in top position
  • He needs to dictate the range in the stand up, using lateral movement to avoid the cage if Penn tries to cut the cage off...
  • The longer the fight goes, the better his chances are 

Kenny Florian does have more in his arsenal in regards to the stand up game.  There shouldn't be a big difference in regards to strength between the two fighters.   We all know that BJ Penn has KO power and is great at BJJ(although hasn't really been a threat with submissions from his back in MMA), but he is beatable at 155.  Kenny Florian has the tools to get it done and will win this fight via decision.