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Florian falls short in bid for first title

K. FLORIAN Loses to Aldo K. FLORIAN Loses to Aldo
By Chris Duncan
Associated Press / October 10, 2011

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HOUSTON - Jose Aldo defended his 145-pound belt with a unanimous decision over Dover’s Kenny Florian Saturday night in the co-feature event at UFC 136.

The victory was the 13th straight for Aldo (20-1) and denied Florian his first UFC championship.

“I had to pace it a little bit,’’ Aldo said through an interpreter. “I couldn’t be as explosive as I wanted to be in the fight.’’

The 35-year-old Florian (16-6) went the distance with Aldo, who’s 10 years younger. In June, Florian became the first UFC fighter to compete in four different weight classes when he beat Diego Nunes in his 145-pound debut.

Florian shoved Aldo into the cage in the first round and scored a takedown with about two minutes left. Aldo took control in the third round, hobbling Florian with a sharp kick to Florian’s right knee. Aldo landed two punches as Florian limped away.

Aldo, a Brazilian expert in jiu-jitsu, started the fourth round with two hard punches, but Florian drove Aldo into the cage again. Florian missed on a kick and fell in the fifth round, and Aldo maintained top position for most of the rest of the match. Before the decision was announced, Aldo climbed the cage and back-flipped off the top. All three judges scored the fight, 49-46.

“It played out great,’’ Aldo said. “He’s a very strategic fighter, so he’s a very smart and experienced guy. I just had to go in there and impose my game.’’

In the other featured match, Frankie Edgar beat Gray Maynard by technical knockout to defend his lightweight championship, finishing the challenger with a flurry of punches late in the fourth round.

Edgar (14-1-1) and Maynard (11-1-1) waited nine months for their third meeting. Maynard beat Edgar by unanimous decision in April 2008, and the two dueled to a draw on New Year’s Day, a match Maynard insists he won.

Maynard vowed victory in August while sporting a T-shirt that read “Dethrone’’ across the front. Edgar also had a score to settle, looking to avenge his only professional loss.

“He’s a tough kid,’’ Maynard said. “If there was a bat there, I would’ve hit him with a bat.’’

Edgar was in trouble in the first round, just as he was in their last meeting. This time, Maynard staggered Edgar with a hard right upper cut, then landed a flying left knee that bloodied Edgar’s nose.

“That last fight we had, he hurt me in that first round,’’ Edgar said. “I don’t know, man, maybe I just want to make it exciting. Who knows?’’

Maynard seemed to back off in the second round, and Edgar started landing left-right combinations to climb back into the fight.

Edgar continued to land the combos at the start of the fourth round. Maynard went for a takedown and slipped, and Edgar took advantage, landing a hard right upper cut.

With Maynard off-balance, Edgar kept landing right hands and Maynard staggered backward. One more right dropped Maynard to the mat, and Edgar hammered him with left hooks until referee Josh Rosenthal stopped it with just over a minute left in the round.

“I hit him with a right hand,’’ Edgar said. “I seen him rocked, so I went right for the kill.’’