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Florian Gunning For Title Shot with Win


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The quest to win a title is the goal for most mixed martial artists, but maybe none more so than the fighters who have come close to tasting gold only to come up short. Talk to Dan Marino, Charles Barkley or Karl Malone, and for as great as they were individually in their respective sports, the lack of a championship will always seemingly haunt their legacies. One person who does not want to fall into the category of the greatest fighters to never win a championship is UFC lightweight Kenny Florian, who has had two cracks at the 155-pound title, only to miss the mark in both bids. The Massachusetts native has proven he may very well be the best lightweight in the world without a title around his waist, but that gold strap means something to Florian.


It means he's the best in the world, and he won't rest until he possesses it. Florian could line back up for one more run at the gold when he faces Gray Maynard in his hometown on Saturday night when UFC 118 descends on Boston. Widely considered a No. 1 contender's match, Florian is only focused on Maynard, but that doesn't mean he has taken his eyes off of the big prize. With Frankie Edgar facing B.J. Penn in the main event on the same card, the former "Ultimate Fighter" competitor wants it to be known he wants to face the winner.


"I really would like to fight for the belt." Florian told MMAWeekly Radio. "I don't have a preference. I want to fight the best guy, whoever wins, that's who I want to fight. "Frankie, if he wins this fight, you can't say it's a fluke this time. If he beats B.J. Penn for a second time, he proves he's the No. 1 fighter in the world at lightweight. There's no doubt about it. If B.J. Penn wins then he showed 'hey, I had an off night that night. I am the best in the world. I'm the most dominant lightweight champion of all time. I'm the champion,' and then I get to fight him. Regardless, it doesn't matter to me."


Florian last fought for the title in August 2009 and lost by rear naked choke to Penn. That didn't deter him from his goal as he promptly got back on the horse and choked out both Clay Guida and former Pride legend Takanori Gomi. Making no excuses for his loss to Penn in 2009, Florian admits that the Hawaiian got the best of him, but that doesn't mean he wouldn’t beat him with a second chance.


"We all go into fights with excuses, and problems, and whatever, and it's up to the fighters to go out and execute. And B.J. was the better man, that's it," said Florian. "A lot of people say they don't want to see a B.J. Penn/Kenny Florian rematch. Kenny got blown out of the water against B.J. Penn. Well, I'm a different fighter. I'm a different guy. I'm not going to go and talk about excuses. B.J. Penn was a better man that night, but we've seen guys improve, and I'm a different fighter."


Before UFC 118 came together, Maynard was originally pegged as the top contender to challenge Edgar, who he defeated in 2008 and still stands as the only fighter to do so. In the end, the UFC opted to give Penn a rematch after a razor close fight the last time out, so Maynard asked for a fight with Florian instead. If Maynard was the top contender, Florian is more than happy to face him, defeat him, and take his title shot.


"Regardless of who wins that fight, I think I would deserve a rematch with a win over Gray," Florian stated. "Gray's undefeated, he's got some great skills, I'm not taking that away from him at all. He's a tough opponent, a tough guy to beat. "If I prove that I'm the best fighter, then why would anybody else get a shot over me? It's about finding out who the best fighter is. It's not about who's the most marketable fighter, and who is this and that, that's to entertain the WWE fans. It should be about who are the best two fighters. Let's find them, let's put them in a cage, and see who's better. That's what it should be about."


The hunger that builds inside Florian has turned ravenous as he approaches his UFC 118 showdown with Maynard. He's out to prove that he is the best lightweight in the sport, and it's not to avenge a loss to Penn, or prove he can answer Edgar's skill in the cage. It's because he wants to prove to himself that he's the best in the world.


"It's one thing to talk about it, it's another thing to do it. I just want to go out there and do it," said Florian. "I just want to go out there and fight, fight the best guys, and prove it. Prove it to myself more than anything else."

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