Kenny Florian Shouldn't Return for the UFC on FOX Sports 1 Card in Boston

Michael StetsContributor IIIMay 6, 2013


The inaugural UFC on FOX Sports 1 card will take place on August 17, in Boston, home to retired fighter-turned-broadcaster Kenny Florian. 

Florian hasn’t fought since losing by unanimous decision to Jose Aldo at UFC 136, almost two years ago.  If he makes his return to his hometown that night, he should be commentating on punches and kicks instead of throwing them.

Yes, he’s stated in the past and before he retired that he craved big fights, but at this point who would it be against?  And what else does he need to prove? 

Florian has made an incredibly smooth transition into the world of broadcasting.  He has a weekly spot alongside Chael Sonnen on FUEL TV’s UFC Tonight and is teamed up with Jon Anik to call all the UFC on FX and UFC on FUEL fight cards.

Most athletes go back to their respected sport because they can’t find something to fill that hole; Florian has found it.  Not only that, he is excelling at it and is one of the most respected analysts in the sport.  Sure he wouldn’t be giving it up to return for another fight, but it gives him plenty of reason and distraction not to.

Let’s say he does decide to come back.  We can assume he would fight in the 155 division, since he mentioned that as the target division before his retirement (Boston Herald h/t, and a cut to 145 after a long layoff would be extremely difficult.  Who would he face?

A title fight is out of the question, but Florian would obviously want a big-name opponent, especially for the FOX Sports 1 card in Boston.   So would the UFC put him against a top-five lightweight who would be available, say Gilbert Melendez?

An intriguing and interesting matchup, however, is a fight with one of the best lightweights on the planet a good idea after a long layoff?  And would Dana White or Joe Silva even consider such a matchup?

Or with the other top-five big-name lightweights fighting at the end of May, could a potential long-coveted rematch with Diego Sanchez be enough to entice Florian back into the mix?

It would be an easy sell, due to the fact that Sanchez defeated him back at The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale, but not much to gain for him aside from personal gratification.  That's not really a good enough reason to make a return, and it would be a terrible loss if he didn’t avenge the original one.

Which proves my point: If he has to reach for a reason, then what’s the point in coming back?  Florian has nothing more to accomplish in the sport except win a title.  Yes, he never tasted the glory of raising a belt over his head, but he is one of the best fighters the sport has ever seen.  He has fought in three title fights, and 12 of his 14 career wins were finishes; he was only finished twice in his career.

Florian is 36 years old and doesn’t have to absorb any more physical damage to his body to make a living.  I’m sure, like any other fighter who has retired but is still involved with the sport, being close to the action must spawn the itch to return.  Being an analyst and commentator should be the scratch that halts that itching desire.

I liken this to another example of an athlete-turned-broadcaster, retired NFL quarterback, Boomer Esiason.

Esiason’s NFL career lasted 14 seasons.  He played for three different organizations, won a league MVP in 1988 and, like Florian failing to win a UFC title, lost in his only Super Bowl appearance, to the 49ers.

In his last season, Esiason had a resurgence in his career, returning to his original team, the Cincinnati Bengals, after four seasons with the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals. 

At 36 years of age (Florian’s age now) Cincinnati wanted to sign him for two more seasons.  Esiason could’ve continued on hoping for another Super Bowl run.  Instead, he left his playing days behind and joined the announcing team for Monday Night Football, then still on ABC.  He never looked back and has had a prosperous broadcasting career since.

Florian should follow that same example.  Every fighter fights to one day win a title.  Florian knows how hard it is to win a title, having lost a chance to win one three times.

He knows, at this stage of the game, he would have to win more than one fight to get back into contention. 

He is rising to the top in his new career.  Why put that on hold to stage a comeback in your hometown or at all?  Let the sport remember you for being a warrior and fierce competitor and for walking away by your own admission.  Not for coming back when you didn’t need too and then eventually being told to leave.

Stay retired, you left it all in the cage, you have nothing left to prove.