“My goal wasn’t to go out there and say, ‘Hey, look, Kenny Florian went longer than anybody else did with B.J. Penn at 155 (pounds), and he was in the best shape of his life,’ It’s a disappointment, and it’s a failure because I didn’t win the fight. The way I’m feeling right now, it’s a tough pill to swallow…I definitely thought I won the first round (and) I thought I won the third. I know one judge had me winning all three rounds and I think another judge had me winning 2-1. The goal was to try to get him to the fifth round and drown him. I couldn’t afford to make mistakes at that point…I really believed that it was going to come down to the wrestling and whoever got on top of who was going to win the fight. I think that was the key for both of us, and B.J. was able to do it. I made the first big mistake and I knew whoever made the first big mistake was probably going to lose the fight and that’s what happened. At the highest levels you can’t afford those kinds of mistakes.”
—Kenny Florian, via The Boston Herald, reflecting on his disappointing loss to BJ Penn
It definitely seemed like Kenny tried to take a page out of GSP’s playbook on how to beat Penn and it just didn’t work for him. He may have kept Penn under control for the majority of the first three rounds, but it just never appeared like he doing a whole lot besides holding him there. Maybe if he could have kept it up for two more, he would have edged out the decision (I didn’t see it that way, had Penn winning based on damage), but BJ’s strength and conditioning paid off allowing him to take advantage of the opening in the later rounds.
It is a tough pill to swallow though. Kenny’s basically in the same position Jon Fitch is in and the one Rich Franklin was in. He’s clearly one of the best in the division, but none of them were effective enough against the champ to give anyone the impression they would win in a rematch.
Kenny will bounce back though. I don’t think it’s in his DNA to quit.
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