It's been a long time since we first saw Massachusetts native Kenny "KenFlo" Florian competing for a roster spot on season one of The Ultimate Fighter. Florian competed at middleweight on the show, defeating Chris Leben on his path to the finals, where he lost in the finale to Diego Sanchez.
Following his stint on TUF as a middleweight, Florian has since competed at welterweight, lightweight and now featherweight. The most amazing aspect of his multiple changes in weight is that Florian has been successful at every level, picking up wins against top competition such as Sam Stout, Joe Lauzon, Roger Huerta, Joe Stevenson, Clay Guida and Takanori Gomi.
Florian had his most success at 155 pounds, where he fought in two lightweight championship matches as the challenger. Florian earned his first shot as he faced off against Sean Sherk, losing by unanimous decision. That setback seemed to only make Florian hungrier, as he proceeded to go on a six-fight win streak, finishing five of those six bouts before the final bell sounded. With all of that momentum, he gained a second chance at the lightweight title, which was now defended by lightweight legend BJ Penn. Penn went on to dominate Florian throughout the fight, out-striking Florian and stuffing his take-downs until Penn locked in a rear naked choke in Round 4 to again deny Florian of the championship.
Florian has now set his sights on the 145-pound featherweight division where top-five pound-for-pound fighter Jose Aldo reigns supreme. Florian stated that he has wanted to fight the exciting Aldo and decided to move down in weight just to have the chance at him. In order to get his chance, he has to get past a very tough Diego Nunes at UFC 131 at the Rodgers Center in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Will Kenny Florian capture the Featherweight Championship?
Nunes is a top-10 world ranked featherweight that has an MMA record of 16-1 but has went to decision in his last six fights while posting a 5-1 record. Florian will be his toughest fight to date and should propel the winning fighter into a title match with Jose Aldo.
This could be the division that "KenFlo" could finally capture the UFC championship that has eluded him for so long. The reason being is that the Achilles heel of Florian has been opponents with solid wrestling games and take-down defense. Florian has come up short against Diego Sanchez, BJ Penn, Sean Sherk and Gray Maynard during his tenure with the UFC. Neither Nunes or Aldo is known for wrestling, which might enable Florian to get the fight to the mat where he can utilize one of the best ground games in MMA. In addition to that, he will be a very tall and large featherweight, which will only help his striking and ground games with a reach advantage he will possess against most opponents in that weight class.
In order to make his dreams become reality, Florian has hit the gym hard as he is trying to bolster up his strength. Seeing it as his biggest weakness, he worked with George Lockhart on his diet to maximize his performance inside and outside the gym. He again teamed up with Jonathan Chaimberg, owner of Adrenaline Performance Center, located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada to work on his strength and conditioning.
Florian should be a force at 145, as he will be an extremely big featherweight. His coaches have said that his strength has greatly improved, his speed is up and his cardio still remains as good as ever. With the addition of strength, Florian's game should be one of the best in MMA, as he is also one of the most technical and experienced fighters when competing inside the Octagon.
With all of those traits combined, at 35 years of age, this could be the best version of Kenny Florian to date, as he attempts to earn a third shot at a UFC championship.