In mixed martial arts, the little guys have long struggled to garner the same respect afforded to the big men of the sport.
Before Junior dos Santos and Shane Carwin sling leather in the featured fight of UFC 131 at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada tonight (June 11, 2011), Kenny Florian will make his featherweight debut in the co-main event against the unheralded Diego Nunes.
Florian, despite his advanced age (at least in MMA years), made the decision to cut an extra 10 pounds after a couple failed attempts at the lightweight title.
That and the shallow pool of known talent at 145-pounds.
"KenFlo," just as savvy a businessman as he is a fighter, knows he's likely only one win away from contesting for another UFC title. Why? Because his name carries more value than perhaps any other fighter in the weight class.
Even division champion Jose Aldo.
The Boston native has some previous beef with "Scarface" that he would love to settle with his title on the line. He'll have to earn that chance the hard way, in enemy territory, by defeating the gritty Nunes.
Nunes is quite possibly the best fighter you've never heard of. Since beginning his career in 2004, he's ripped off 16 wins in 17 tries.
That's pretty damn good, folks.
There is a major knock against him, though. As the competition has gotten stronger, his finishing rate has fallen at a rapid pace. His last six fights have gone the distance, one of them a loss and two of the wins coming by way of split decision.
That includes his last fight, a victory over former champion Mike Brown in his UFC debut.
However, winning is just that -- winning. And his impressive career resume has earned him this chance, on this big stage, against this tough opponent, to show the world how good he really is.
If he comes away victorious, he just may be "gunning" for the division title.
Whether or not he can do it remains to be seen. The same can be said for Florian, who is facing a ton of questions regarding how exactly he'll perform in his first fight at his new weight class.
There's an awful lot at stake with so many variables and unknowns.
You don't want to miss it when those questions get their answers.