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UFC 101: BJ Penn vs Kenny Florian

8-05-09

CHAMP HOPES THIS ISN'T END OF LINE

UFC Lightweight title
August 8 -- Philadelphia

BetUS UFC Betting Odds:
B.J. PENN  -230
KENNY FLORIAN  +180

For betting purposes, let's look at the contestants:

PENN (13-5-1, 5 KO's), the -230 favorite in the BetUS UFC betting odds, holds the distinction of being the first American to have won the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, and has trained under Ralph Gracie, part of the famous first family of that art. In 2001 he made his UFC debut with a one-round TKO over Joey Gilbert. he actually wound up getting a championship opportunity only four fights into his career, and he lost to Jens Pulver with the UFC lightweight title at stake.

Three fights after that he was held to a draw by Caol Uno for that very same title (which was left vacant after Pulver left the UFC). He then moved to the welterweight division, as the UFC had nixed the lightweights, and won that 170-pound title over Matt Hughes at UFC 46. What ensued was a battle with the UFC, which stripped Penn of his crown when he fought in K-1; one of his fights there was an open-weight match which he lost to Lyoto Machida.

After an accord was reached, Penn came back at UFC 58 and lost a split decision to Georges St. Pierre in a bout that determined the #1 contender. GSP was supposed to defend his title against Hughes, but suffered an injury, and Penn got a shot at the "interim" crown. Penn was more than holding his own until he sustained a rib injury, and Hughes took control in the third round to score a TKO. Penn found himself being matched with Joe Stevenson for the vacant lightweight title (which had been reinstated) when Sean Sherk was serving out a suspension, and he captured the interim title with a rear naked choke in the second round.

He then became an "undisputed" champion when he stopped Sherk in three rounds at UFC 84. Penn, who along with Randy Couture are the only UFC fighters to win championships in two different divisions, tried to move to welter again in his last fight, but St. Pierre stopped him in a fight where Penn got very tired very quickly and was just dominated from the second round forward. GSP, who was allegedly "greased up" for that fight, said he would give Penn yet another shot.

FLORIAN (11-3, 3 KO's), the +180 underdog at BetUS, has an athletic background that includes experience at the Division I level in soccer, when he was playing at Boston College. Like many of the UFC fighters, Florian got his start fighting on a smaller circuit. This one was called "Mass Destruction," and he won his first two pro fights there, and turned to the UFC shortly thereafter to compete in The Ultimate Fighter, losing on a TKO to Diego Sanchez in the first series finale. He fought in the finale of the second and third season as well, and then sustained his last defeat to Sean Sherk at UFC 64 in October of 2006. That bout was for the vacant UFC lightweight title.

Florian has won six fights in a row, including a TKO over Joe Lauzon, and his last victory, a win over Joe Stevenson via rear naked choke, put him in position for a lightweight title shot as the #1 contender. Florian is a dangerous Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu artist, who is known for being very proficient with his elbows. What's interesting is that in the loss to Sanchez, he was fighting at 185 pounds (middleweight) and he dropped down to the 155-pound lightweight division in a little more than a year's time.

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