Kenny Florian will make his much anticipated return to the octagon on August 28 with plenty of pressure on his shoulders
UFC 118 will mark the first time he fights in his hometown of Boston in the UFC.
More importantly, a potential crack at the lightweight belt could be on the line.
A workmanlike win over Gray Maynard may not be good enough for another look at the holy grail. He may need an “impressive” win to convince the UFC management to grant him a third shot at the title. Florian was unsuccessful in both of his previous attempts, losing to Sean Sherk and BJ Penn.
Will he be able to do enough on the big stage to get another opportunity?
We will have to wait and see.
In the meantime, “Ken Flo” took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss fighting on his home turf, tightening up his defensive wrestling, incorporating the Shake Weight into his training, and being the victim in a number of recent crimes.
Check it out:
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): You’re coming off an impressive victory over Takanori Gomi. He’s a guy that has been admired from afar by you and me and many others here stateside during his reign in PRIDE. The guy is a legend. What did that victory mean to you? It had to be surreal on some level.
Kenny Florian: It definitely felt good. I felt good with my preparation for the fight. I felt great. I felt it was a good time to take on a guy like Gomi at that point in my career. It was a real honor to face someone like that.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Gomi turns around and cold cocks Tyson Griffin in his next fight. After your fight people were saying Gomi was done. Now people think he’s back and better than ever. Do you think your victory over him will finally get the proper love it deserves?
Kenny Florian: Probably not. People always think a guy is either done or good or bad just based on their last fight. I think it was just more a matter of style vs. style. My style matched up well against his and, in my opinion, Griffin did not have the smartest strategy against him. Anytime you commit to your feet with a guy like Gomi you are asking to trade punches. You are right in front of him. Anything can happen. With Gomi, it is very important not to do that.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): You’re fighting Gray Maynard in a few weeks. Since the event is local, has it been a distraction to handle tickets and other accommodations for your friends and family?
Kenny Florian: Not really. There have been a lot of requests. There is no doubt about it. It’s expected. I’ve had the opportunity to be around the sport a long time. I’m kind of used to getting asked for tickets. It has been obviously a little more than normal this time, but it’s not really too bad.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): I talked to Jon Fitch recently before his UFC 117 fight in Oakland. It took place very close to his home base in San Jose. He told me he thinks there are advantages fighting close to home with regards to his diet and getting a few extra nights of sleep in his own bed. Do you agree? Do you think there are tangible advantages to the locale?
Kenny Florian: Absolutely. You are used to your surroundings. You are used to being in your own bed, like you said. I have a very specific diet. I can just go into my refrigerator and eat whatever I need to eat. It’s definitely going to be very beneficial.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): We know Maynard is a powerful wrestler. This is a guy who basically picked up current champion Frankie Edgar and dumped him on his head for 15 minutes not too long ago. Have you drilled more defensive wrestling in your current training camp as opposed to previous ones or not necessarily?
Kenny Florian: I definitely worked on my wrestling. Maybe a little more than normal, but it’s something I’ve been working on for a long time. I’ve been working on it a lot since the BJ (Penn) fight. I’ve worked with a lot of high level wrestlers since then. It’s not something that was going to get better for this camp. I had to have gotten better way before. You are not going to improve your wrestling in one training camp. I’ve been working on it a long time and I think it is paying off. Right now, I’m facing Maynard at a great point. He’s going to use his wrestling. I’m looking forward to seeing if the hard work I’ve been putting in ends up paying off.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): You like to channel your Muay Thai and throw a lot of leg kicks in your fights. Those kicks could potentially chip away at his base and make it difficult for him to use his offensive wrestling. On the other hand, those kicks could also be caught and you could end up on your back. It is sort of a double-edged sword. What is your mindset going into this fight with regards to your leg strikes?
Kenny Florian: Everything has a counter. There’s a counter for him shooting in on me. There’s a counter for leg kicks. There’s a counter for everything he does. You cannot think about that all the time. I think the key is just waiting for the right opportunity to execute a technique and going for it. Everything has its place. It is up to me to figure out the right time to do it or not.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): You are a busy man in between fights. You’re on MMA Live. You’re commentating WEC and even UFC events from time to time. You also have other obligations like seminars and appearances and things. You’re the international man of mystery. Nobody knows where you might pop up. At any point leading up to this fight have you said to yourself, “Should I cut back? Is this negatively affecting my training?”
Kenny Florian: No, not at all. I always find time for training. I’m always in the gym. For me it is not a big deal. This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve been doing the MMA Live show for two years. I’ve found a great balance of being able to do that. It wasn’t a problem before and it’s not a problem now. Not to mention I always take off six weeks beforehand from doing MMA Live or any type of traveling that is not fight related.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Who wins the BJ Penn / Frankie Edgar rematch and what will be the deciding factors in the fight?
Kenny Florian: It is going to be an interesting fight. I think both of those guys are at the top of their game. They’ll probably make some slight changes in their preparation and their strategy. I think it is still going to be a very close fight. You have to think that both of these guys are going to be trying to do something a little bit different to change it up. It’s tough to say. I guess I’m leaning towards BJ Penn because it was very close last time and there was talk of him maybe not being at 100% or what have you. I still think a guy with Frankie’s style will always give BJ problems. It’s going to be a great fight. Good luck to both of them.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Did you think Edgar won the first fight at UFC 112? I certainly did not.
Kenny Florian: It’s tough. It’s tough to say one guy did or didn’t. Some rounds really could have gone either way. It was BJ early on and later on Edgar. The deciding round for me was the third round. I’ll watch it sometimes and say BJ and I’ll watch it other times and think Frankie. It just depends. It’s a tough job those judges have, especially in fights like that. I wouldn’t want to be a judge for a fight like that. It was so close that it’s hard to argue either way.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): The UFC has not come out and formally stated the winner of your fight with Maynard will get a title shot. Will you be disappointed if the winner does not get that opportunity?
Kenny Florian: No. I’ve been around where things have been promised and you don’t get it. For me, it just means I get to fight again. Either way I get another tough opponent. I’m excited. Do I feel I’m ready for another title shot? Yes, I think I’m a different fighter but I won’t be disappointed. I’m happy with whatever the UFC decides.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Let me get to this quick rundown here. I did some investigative journalism and found out that there is a cup bandit on the loose at FLOMAC. Can you confirm? If so, how is this possible?
Kenny Florian: (laughs) Yes, this is kind of strange. It’s a little scary. I have a Thai cup. I have two of them. One of which I keep here at Florian Martial Arts Center. For whatever reason it’s been disappearing every once in a while. We made this announcement, “Whoever is taking this cup. It belongs to Kenny. It’s not to be used. Blah blah blah.”
The second time we made an announcement it disappeared altogether. We haven’t found this cup. There is a cup bandit so we’re looking for this guy. We’re not sure who it is. It may be Gray Maynard coming in and stealing my cup. We just want to figure it out. We’re going to need your type of investigative journalism to solve this. I don’t know if they’re using it as an oxygen mask or praying to it at night, who knows, but it’s been in and around my crotch. Congratulations to whoever has it.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): I also understand your car was broken into recently and your laptop was stolen. It appears as if you’re becoming a crime victim on a consistent basis.
Kenny Florian: Why can’t people just leave me alone?
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): My question is whether you think this is what Biggie meant when he said Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems?
Kenny Florian: (laughs) I think that is exactly what it is. The car I brought to Montreal is an SUV and you can see into the trunk. I had some clothes and stuff back there and inside my bag I had my laptop. I went to get a towel out and forgot to zip it up. It literally was in the 15 minutes time frame between me taking a shower and coming back down. Someone smashed the window and took my laptop out. Not good. Now I’m still organizing my ITunes. That’s what you get for not backing up your material.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Could these crimes be related?
Kenny Florian: It could be. It’s very possible. The cup bandit could also be the laptop bandit.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Let me switch gears here. You look like a robust middleweight sitting next to Jon Anik on MMA Live. Is the camera playing tricks on the viewers or is Anik a bantamweight?
Kenny Florian: He’s not the biggest guy, but it could just be my weight. I’m probably the biggest I’ve ever been. I also have a really large head.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Who on the show requires the most time in the makeup chair? Who is the guy that they’re still powdering right before the camera goes on?
Kenny Florian: It’s probably me or Pat Miletich. I’m not sure. Miletich takes a while in that chair. It’s like three hours putting stuff on. With me, I’m like a grease ball so I have to be patted down all the time. Then Stephan (Bonnar) has a lot of scars. It’s one of us.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): I saved my favorite burning question for last. Please afford me complete and utter honesty. Has the Shake Weight been a godsend or an added distraction in your training camp?
Kenny Florian: (laughs) The Shake Weight is a very important part of my training. I’m actually using two now. I think it is going to be critical. It’s going to be a deciding factor. If Gray is not working with a Shake Weight then he’s in trouble. Let’s put it that way.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Do you really need a strength and conditioning coach anymore?
Kenny Florian: My new strength and conditioning coach’s first name is Shake. Last name is Weight.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Okay, we might want to end on that note. I refuse to insult your intelligence any further.
Kenny Florian: Jonathan Chaimberg is probably going to be insulted by that. People are going to start calling him Shake Weight soon. We might not want to do this.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): He’ll learn to adapt. Kenny, thank you for your time as always. Best of luck in your upcoming fight.
Kenny Florian: Alright, thanks Derek. Take care man.
Derek Bolender is a lead MMA staff writer for BleacherReport.com. Follow both him (@DerekBolender) and B/R MMA (@BR_MMA) on Twitter.