UFC 131 preview: Kenny Florian eyes impressive featherweight debut against Diego Nunes

Kenny Florian(left) will take on Diego Nunes at UFC 131

The co-main event for UFC 131 will feature  a featherweight bout between former UFC lightweight standout Kenny Florian and WEC veteran Diego Nunes.

This will be Florian’s featherweight debut as he looks to enter the title picture with an impressive win.

Diego Nunes comes into this fight with a career record of (16-1) with 6 wins via submission and 5 wins via TKO/KO. Nunes fought primarily in Brazil before making his WEC debut back in 2008. The only defeat Nunes has suffered came via unanimous decision against LC Davis. Nunes holds notable wins over former WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown and the always tough Raphael Assuncao. Nunes is fairly well rounded and is versed in submissions and muay thai.

Kenny Florian comes into this fight with a career record of (14-5) with 10 wins via submission and 3 TKO/KO’s to his credit. Florian is coming off a unanimous decision loss to top lightweight contender Gray Maynard in August of last year. As mentioned, this will be Florian’s featherweight debut after fighting primarily as a lightweight the past few years. Florian is well versed in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and is also versed in muay thai from his days training with Mark Dellagrotte. However, Florian has now incorporated boxing into his style after moving over to Tri-Star gym and Greg Jackson’s camp.

Betus has Florian as the betting favorite at (-300) and Nunes as the underdog at (+220).

It’s thought that Florian is on the fast track to a featherweight title shot against the current champion Jose Aldo since the UFC was interested in them fighting once before. This is a pretty interesting fight stylistically even though Florian is the heavy favorite. I’d give the edge on the ground to Florian and the striking advantage probably goes to Florian as he has a slightly more varied attack opposed to Nunes.

Nunes likes to stand and impose his will with muay thai, and he also likes to close the distance while using a leg trip to get takedowns after getting a body lock on his opponents. Nunes could be effective from the top with Florian on his back as Florian hasn’t shown that he’s exceptionally dangerous in regards to submitting opponents from that position. Nunes will have to mix up his game with striking and takedowns in order to win a decision against Florian, otherwise I think he takes the loss here.

Florian simply needs to establish his striking range as he should enjoy a decent reach advantage. He needs to avoid being taken down and if possible he should take Nunes down although I’m not sure he’ll be able to do that too effectively. If so, his top game is pretty good and he could force Nunes to make a mistake by giving up his back which would allow the crafty veteran to sink in the rear naked choke. I see Florian being the more effective striker in this fight, so he either wins a decision or submits Nunes to possibly set up a showdown with Jose Aldo.

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