It was over seven years ago that UFC fans were first introduced to Kenny Florian on the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter, and after nearly 20 UFC bouts, it’s time to say goodbye to Ken-Flo.
As far as résumés go, it’s tough to argue against Florian being one of the most successful fighters in UFC history. And despite his inability to earn a UFC title during his run with the company, he has done more than enough as a fighter and ambassador to earn a spot in the UFC Hall of Fame.
As a fighter, there were few that could match the excitement of a Florian bout. Despite making his name as a Brazilian Ju Jitsu black belt, Florian quickly became one of the premier strikers in the lightweight division, and was often able to use his superior stand-up to set up his nasty submission game.
Submissions may end up being Florian’s legacy, as he will retire with the second most stoppages by submission in UFC history with nine, behind only the legendary Royce Gracie’s 11 wins by tap out.
Although his career was largely a success, a UFC belt alluded Florian for his entire career despite getting four separate chances to acquire gold.
Florian’s lack of a UFC title reign is going to be the glaring weakness on his résumé, but other elite stars like Dan Marino, Charles Barkley and Karl Malone have all been enshrined in their respective sport’s Hall of Fame in recent years, and there is no reason Florian should be any different.
His accomplishments inside the cage are enough to warrant a Hall of Fame birth by themselves, but if you look at what Florian has done for the sport outside of the cage, it becomes even more clear that he is one of the most worthy fighters to receive such an honor.
Unlike the Chuck Liddell’s and Wanderlei Silva’s of the sport—who perfectly fit the world's stereotype of a fighter—Florian looked like an everyday guy and was a fighter that many new fans could instantly relate with. The benefits of having a guy like Florian were endless for the UFC, and the fact that he wasn’t a naturally gifted fighter only furthered Florian’s “everyday guy” mystique.
While this is the end of Florian’s career as a fighter, his time with the UFC is far from over.
His new job as a color commentator for the UFC’s fight cards on FX and Fuel TV will keep Florian in the minds of UFC fans for the time being, and his frequent appearances on shows like UFC Tonight will only continue to advance his status as one of the best analysts in the sport.
All in all, Florian is a Hall of Fame quality fighter, ambassador and company man, and it should be a matter of when, not if, he gets inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.