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Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Dana White takes on Kenny Florian


Ed Mulholland for ESPN.com
Kenny Florian struggles against wrestlers, and the Gray Maynard fight was no exception.

Calling Kenny Florian a perennial bridesmaid isn't intended to feminize him: He's a sensational fighter who has brushed off the absence of a wrestling pedigree or a power lifter's physique and crafted a pretty devastating soldier out of himself. Despite a few career burps, his list of opponents read as a who's who of the lightweight division.

And so Florian dropping a No. 1 contender's bid to Gray Maynard this past weekend is no great shakes. Maynard is a terrific wrestler, and Florian -- because of the aforementioned lack of wrestling reps as a kid -- gets a headache against wrestlers every time out. The style made the fight, which is why it was bizarre to hear Dana White express the opinion that Florian simply "chokes" in big fights; Florian countered by saying White doesn't understand the microtechnique of the sport. That's one fewer Christmas card to worry about for each man.

The fact is, Florian has skills that have elevated him just a few floors short of the penthouse. Was he mentally fractured because he didn't "engage" Maynard, or is the more likely explanation that he isn't going to wade in with typical aggression because he knows Maynard can respond with a tackle? Bad matchups make for bad performances. It's not any more or less complicated than that.

Florian told the media that he would have to rethink his attitude toward competition and whether, at age 34, it's worthwhile to continue. This is another example of the frustrations that can arise when the WEC's lighter divisions are kept separate from the UFC's banner and its accompanying payroll. Moving to 145 might be the reinvention Florian needs, but it would come with a paycheck he doesn't.