Let’s take a moment to match these two elite fighters on paper and learn why KenFlo will pull off the upset.

Most Improved

Since TUF it is hard to argue many other cast members have made the improvement of KenFlo. One way to compare recent improvement is to look at the Joe Stevenson fight. Both fought Daddy relatively recently and KenFlo looked just as good as BJ (if not better) in his dismantling of the game wrestler.

Striking

BJ won’t be able to pick KenFlo apart like he has others (Sherk, Stevenson). KenFlo is much more allusive and has a reach that should cause BJ difficulty. KenFlo has learned the art of angles, kicking, and agility on his feet. Give the edge here to KenFlo.

Ground

Not many of BJ’s opponents look forward to going to the ground. KenFlo will be the first fighter in many that may well be BJ’s equal on the ground. KenFlo is dominant once he has top position and has an offensive guard. Don’t forget about KenFlo’s elbows from anywhere (just ask Sherk). Slight edge to BJ.

Image of Kenny Florian - UFC 91 - courtesy of yorkblog.com

Intelligence

KenFlo is one of the most cerebral fighters in the game. His smarts in the cage allow him to adjust his game plan quickly to take advantage of his opponent’s weaknesses. BJ is used to having his way with his opposition. If KenFlo can negate BJ’s offence early on, he may well frustrate BJ and take him out of his mental game.

Under rated

Despite his recent success, KenFlo remains extremely under rated. Most believe BJ will have his way in the lightweight division and hold the belt as long as he wants to. This will be KenFlo’s second shot at the title. He learned a lot from his first experience and is a far superior fighter than the man who fought Sherk the first time.

Conditioning

KenFlo’s recent work with Kevin Kearns has perhaps been the single biggest area of improvement for him. Just look at his physique in recent fights as compared to his first title shot against Sherk. KenFlo hung in against one of the best conditioned athletes in MMA in Sherk, with nowhere near the conditioning he has now. It was after the Sherk fight that KenFlo dedicated himself to this area of his game. Conditioning is not historically known as a strong point for BJ. If the fight goes into deep water, and if KenFlo can frustrate BJ, conditioning could determine the outcome of this fight. Big edge to KenFlo in this department.

Finally, BJ is placing a lot of emphasis on his upcoming fight with GSP. It’s a loss he desperately wants to avenge. Win or lose, there can’t help but be a degree of let down from the emotional high of the GSP fight. The timing will be perfect for a highly determined, highly improved, and highly skilled KenFlo to pull off the upset in 2009.