Underdog Role is Under Stevenson's Skin

Written by Tom Ngo
November 14th, 2008

Joe “Big Daddy” Stevenson was the winner of “The Ultimate Fighter 2” reality show, he currently holds an impressive 29-8 professional record (6-2 inside the Octagon) and he has already had a shot at the title. However, with his UFC 91 showdown against Kenny Florian steadily approaching, something has the lightweight extremely miffed.

“I’m angry that people are making me such an underdog,” Stevenson stated. “It’s upsetting — not at Kenny because I think he’s a great guy — just that the fans of maybe the ‘TUF’ era, as everyone always talks about, are so into what’s in front of them that they’ve forgotten what’s happened in the past.”

In Stevenson’s eyes, Florian is a solid fighter, however he sees him as a one-trick pony. He feels that Florian knows that he is outmatched, and will try to end the fight quickly to try and get an easy win.

“It’s pretty cut and dry for me,” he said. “His elbows aren’t fight-ending because of the devastation. I look at it like he’s trying to end the fight with a cut, and I’ve been down that road before. I don’t see it being a problem. If he tries to cut me to win the round or win the fight via stoppage, I look at it as him trying to find a way out, and I’m going to turn it up harder.”

In order to prevent that from happening, Stevenson knows that he has to take control of the fight from the get-go. He plans to take the center of the Octagon and force Florian into a fight that will play right into Stevenson’s hands.

“If I try to reach with him, I’m going to have a tough time in there,” stated the underdog. “I think he’s a better outside fighter than a lot of people give him credit for. I’m sure the guy has me by a few inches, but if you sit there and fight the short man’s game, you’re bound to win. I think I’m a better inside fighter.”

Florian enters the match as the division’s top contender. With BJ Penn deciding to take on welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre at UFC 94 for his belt, Florian had to decide whether to wait for the champ, or fight whoever the UFC put in front of him in the meantime. Florian chose the latter, and Stevenson couldn’t be any happier, as he sees this as a golden opportunity to leapfrog himself into a title match.

“BJ’s a fighter, and he wants to avenge a loss,” Stevenson said of the 155-pound champ’s decision to jump weight classes. “So whether he comes back down or stays up, I have to focus on what’s in front of me. I give him props for doing that because that’s what fighting is all about. It’s the same thing that any true fighter talks about. We want to be remembered not for ‘What if?’ but for what we did.”

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