CHARLOTTE, NC. (KAIT) - With his corner yelling at him to stay focused and technical, Kenny Florian imposed his will and followed his game plan to a T en route to a third-round submission win over Takanori Gomi in the main event of Wednesday's UFC Fight Night 21 in Charlotte, N.C.
With a near-sellout crowd of 7,700 in attendance to witness Gomi's first fight in the UFC, the former Pride champion was unable to mount any kind of offense against the quicker, more tactical Florian.
"It was weird, man," Florian said of the emotions of fighting the Japanese star. "I've been a fan of Pride and his for a long time, so it was kind of weird. I don't know what to say. It was fun."
Florian (11-3) solidified his spot among the division's best, using a crisp jab and solid countering to clearly frustrate Gomi (31-6) by the second round.
Unable to find his rhythm throughout the fight, Gomi resorted to throwing haymakers in the final round, which left him wide open to a Florian takedown just one minute into the round.
It was the only takedown Florian would attempt during the fight and ended up being all that was necessary, as he moved to Gomi's back and ended the fight with a rear naked choke at the 2:52 mark.
"I felt he was open for it," Florian said of the takedown. "I wanted to keep mixing it up. He was very low and tough to shoot on. I had to get him desperate. He opened up with his strikes and I got him down."
In the co-main event, which was interrupted by a power outage in Bojangles Coliseum, TUF 10 winner Roy Nelson knocked out 22-year-old Stefan Struve in the first round, following it up with his signature belly-rubbing celebration.
Nelson (15-4), who trains in Las Vegas, gave praise to Struve (19-4) as one of the top young fighters in the sport and went on to call out James Toney, the 41-year-old boxer who recently signed a multi-fight agreement to compete in the UFC.
UFC FIGHT NIGHT 21 RESULTS:
Main Bouts (On Spike TV):
-Kenny Florian def. Takanori Gomi by submission (rear naked choke) at 2:52, R3
-Roy Nelson def. Stefan Struve by KO at :39, R1
-Jorge Rivera def. Nate Quarry by TKO at :29, R2
-Ross Pearson def. Dennis Siver by Unanimous Decision, R3
Preliminary Bouts (Non-Televised):
-Andre Winner def. Rafaello Oliveira by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Jacob Volkmann def. Ronys Torres by Split Decision, R3
-Nik Lentz def. Rob Emerson by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Gleison Tibau def. Caol Uno by TKO (Strikes) at 4:13, R1
-Yushin Okami def. Lucio Linhares by TKO (Cut) at 2:47, R2
-Gerald Harris def. Mario Miranda by TKO at 4:49, R1
-Charlie Brenneman def. Jason High by Unanimous Decision, R3