Friday, April 6, 2007

Stevenson, Florian climbing lightweight ladder

By Dave Doyle

LAS VEGAS - The picture is coming into focus in the Ultimate Fighting Championship's deep lightweight division.

Joe "Daddy" Stevenson and Ken Florian came up big in the co-features at Thursday's Ultimate Fight Night at the Pearl at the Palms Concert Theater, staking their claims in the long line of fighters looking for a crack at champion Sean Sherk's title.

Stevenson needed just 27 seconds to catch Melvin Guillard (20-7-2) in a guillotine. Florian dominated Dokonjonosuke Mishima and survived a late scare before winning with a rear naked choke at 3:57 of the third round.

"I want a title shot," said Stevenson (28-7), who fights out of Las Vegas. "I know there's a lot of people out there and I gotta wait, but I want a chance at a belt. I'll fight up and fight (welterweight champ) Georges St. Pierre if I have to. I know I have to fight someone else first. I'll fight Matt Serra catchweight. I don't care who I fight."

Stevenson sounds ambitious, but it's hard to blame him for thinking that way after his quick, flawless performance.

The fight figured to be a simple matchup of the explosive Guillard's standup against Stevenson's groundwork. But it was Guillard who made the big mistake standing up, as he came out missing on a couple wild swings and found himself on the wrong end of a crisp jab. Guillard hit the deck and seconds later left his head wide-open for the choke.

"It wasn't the most powerful jab, I just hit it at the right time," said Stevenson. "Then he made a mistake and he left his head open and if it's there, you gotta take it."

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