Florian tops Thomas at UFC Fight Night

Sep 20, 2007 - 4:32 AM By Anthony Malakian Special to PA SportsTicker

LAS VEGAS (Ticker) -- After a night of incredible fights, the main event of Wednesday's UFC Fight Night ended abruptly and somewhat unsatisfying.

Lightweight Kenny Florian extended his winning streak to three in a row - with all coming in the last five months - by sinking in a rear-naked choke on Din Thomas, submitting the Floridian at 4:31 of the first round.

While Florian was having a good deal of success in the opening stanza, he was able to finish the fight when a seemingly incapacitated Thomas was unable to defend himself effectively after shooting in his opponent's legs.

Thomas immediately stopped fighting after his failed shot and Florian jumped on his defenseless foe, landing several unanswered blows before sinking in the submission hold.

As it turned out, Thomas blew out his left knee and had to be helped from the ring immediately afterward. That is not to take anything away from Florian, who easily was getting the better of the action in the first round.

"I trained really hard for this. I train to finish people," Florian said. "I'm not going to promise to finish every fight, but I promise that I'm going to try to finish every fight for (the fans)."

To keep Thomas (20-7) from shooting in, Florian effectively used low leg kicks - almost similar to a jab - to keep his opponent at bay. At one point, Thomas was able to reverse Florian and earn a takedown, but even from his back, Florian landed several of his patented elbows to the head, prompting Thomas to bring the fight back to a standing position.

With the victory, Florian (7-3) moved himself back into title contention for the 155-pound belt. Current lightweight champion Sean Sherk may have to relinquish his crown after testing positive for steroids in July.

Sherk's appeal will be heard in October.

Sherk claimed the vacant lightweight title by defeating Florian last October. With another win or two, it may be Florian finding himself battling for a championship yet again.

"I'm going right back to train with my team," Florian said. "I'm going right back to work and, hopefully, I will get another top contender. If the UFC calls and (UFC matchmaker) Joe Silva is on the phone and tells you, 'You have a fight coming up,' you better hope it's not Kenny Florian."

In other action, Nate Quarry made a triumphant, and brutally thrilling, return to the octagon. After nearly a two-year absence due to a career-threatening spinal injury, Quarry came from behind to stop Pete "Drago" Sell just 44 seconds into the third round.

"Ultimate Fighter 5" winner Nate Diaz was victorious in his first fight since winning his UFC contract. Diaz submitted Junior Assuncao with a 10-finger guillotine choke with 50 seconds remaining in the first round.

Finally, Chris Leben snatched victory from a sure defeat when he knocked out Terry Martin with just over a minute remaining in the third round.

Martin looked to have his opponent badly rocked, but the always dangerous Leben landed a pin-point left hand to the jaw. Just like that, Leben - who had lost three of his previous four fights - is back in the picture again.

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