Kenny Florian vs. Joe Stevenson? Florian Eyes Frankie Edgar Instead

ESPN's Franklin McNeil has talked to both Florian and Edgar. Both, it seems, believe they need a fight with each other to earn a shot at BJ Penn's title. Notable quote:

"Like Kenny, I want to fight the best in my division and right now he might be the No. 1 contender. So, fighting him is kind of a no-brainer. I want to get one [fight] in before the year is out. I would prefer November, but I would wait around to fight Kenny in December."

As for having his name mentioned prominently by Florian? That's fine by Edgar.

"It kind of gives me some recognition," Edgar said. "For a guy like Kenny to consider me as a formidable opponent; he's fought for the title and he's on a lot of people's list for a possible future title shot. So, it's good for me.

"I don't think Kenny's really calling me out; he's just making a statement that he wants to fight tough opponents."

Florian and Edgar are friends. The dropping of Edgar's name was not a show of disrespect by Florian.

"As an athlete, I have a lot of respect for [Frankie Edgar] for what he's accomplished," Florian said. "I respect him as a fighter and a person.

"It was the same with Roger Huerta. I had nothing against Roger; I liked Roger. But he was the best opponent available at the time. … It's nothing personal.

"I want to fight Frankie because he's a great fighter. That's the most important thing. It's about respect, and beating someone like Frankie Edgar will get me more respect."

McNeil suggests Edgar's rejuvenated and improved game revolves largely around improvements in the stand-up, but I would suggest the improvement is in jiu-jitsu. More specifically, in submission defense. Training with Ricardo Almeida has helped him to improve control, posture and positioning against opposition with good jiu-jitsu and particularly good guards. Edgar's base is already good, but Almeida has honed it to help Edgar avoid sweeps.

As for the match-up, I like this significantly more than a Florian - Stevenson fight. I don't think either Florian or Edgar are ready for BJ, but the winner here would be very close to a title shot. Florian would force BJ's hand and Edgar would erase the stigma of his loss to Maynard in April. This match makes much more sense than anything involving Stevenson.

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