Kenny Florian Interview: “If I keep doing well then I will get a title shot eventually; they can’t deny me of that”

Kenny "KenFlo" Florian is very eager to get back into the octagon after he beat Din Thomas via a rear naked choke in the first round during the UFC Fight Night 11 main event.  Although Din Thomas injured himself during the fight, Florian still took home that win, giving him a 7-3-0 record in the UFC lightweight division.  Florian has won 6 of his last 7 fights, losing only to the current lightweight champion Sean Sherk at UFC 64-Unstoppable via a unanimous decision on October, 2007.

The Gracie Barra BJJ black belt master of Peruvian descent continues his intense training as he waits for his next phone call from Dana White and the UFC.  According to KenFlo, he will be fighting "probably February or March. Based on what happens
in the next two weeks, we’ve got some lightweight matches. Hopefully it will be
a tough, top guy."  No official date nor his next opponent has been given, but he should be fighting someone very soon.  With such a response, he seems to be hinting a fight between Roger Huerta and Clay Guida who are headlining the main event bout at The Ultimate Fighter 6 finale.

We’ll let you guys decide who his next opponent may be.  For now, here’s an interview with the man himself:

Q: When I interviewed you on the radio several months
back you mentioned that your team recommended you shut it down for the year.
Can you talk about why they felt you needed a break?

Kenny Florian: Basically, I kind of had a rough
schedule. I had three fights in about 5½ months. The way that I rotate
my training, right before a fight I go into an intense phase of training. It
means a lot of sparring and a lot of technical training, but more than anything
else (it’s) the strength and conditioning training that I do. I go through some
rigorous and grueling circuits. Doing that every month takes its toll on your
body. I need to get back to doing a strength and (inaudible) phase then go into
an explosive phase and then go back to the grueling circuit-type training I do
right before a fight.

It’s a way to re-set my body. I want to get bigger and
stronger again and going right from grueling workout right to grueling workout
takes its toll on your mind and body. They wanted me to re-set my training and
go back to learning new things because when you’re fighting all the time it’s
hard to learn new skills. That was the main thing.

Q: Was there any temptation to come back sooner? Did
the UFC offer you any matches?

KF: They haven’t offered me any matches. My management
told them I was taking a little break so I’ve just been doing that and waiting
and seeing what happens with the lightweight division. There are so many fights
that could happen so I’m excited at that prospect. There’s definitely no
shortage of competition. I’ve just got to keep training hard and keep training
every day just like I am fighting. I’m doing two-a-days six days a week. I’m
training just as hard, just a little bit differently.

Q: Do you know when you’ll be fighting next?

KF: Probably February or March. Based on what happens
in the next two weeks, we’ve got some lightweight matches. Hopefully it will be
a tough, top guy.

Q: You’ve been one of the most outspoken fighters in
MMA when it comes to performance enhancers. As a top contender in the UFC
lightweight division you have a vested interest in Sean Sherk’s fate. What’s
your opinion in regard to how the UFC is handling the title situation with the
interim title? Do you agree with their decision?

KF: I have to. There’s no question that the UFC is
going to do what they’re going to do. I have no problem with that; Joe
Stevenson has been doing awesome and B.J. Penn is obviously phenomenal. You’ve
got two great fighters in there who certainly deserve it, so I can’t argue with
that. I’m happy knowing that I still have some hard fights left. There’s no
shortage of competition, like I said, and I’m excited at the prospect that if I
keep doing well then I will get a title shot eventually; they can’t deny me of

Q: Are you surprised at how the CSAC has handled the
whole situation?

KF: It’s been weird, yeah. It’s been a very weird
situation. It must be frustrating on both ends, for both the commission and for
Sean Sherk. I’m sure they just want to resolve this and find out one way or the
other what the heck is going on. And the lightweights — it’s frustrating for
the lightweights waiting to see. We want our shot too; we want to see what’s
going on with the division. The UFC wants to see what’s going on with the
division and they certainly have to uphold what the CSAC decides. We’re all
kind of in limbo until Dec. 4.

Q: You mentioned some big lightweight matches coming
up. A match between Clay Guida and Roger Huerta is scheduled for the live
season finale of the sixth season of The Ultimate Fighter on Dec. 8. Would you
have an interest in fighting the winner of that bout?

KF: Absolutely. Two great fighters in both Huerta and
Guida. They’ve been doing some phenomenal things in the division. They’re both
very exciting fighters. What excites me is that I want to fight a guy that’s
really going to come and be aggressive and fight me. Those are fights that I’d
really love to have.

Q: You do a great job breaking down matchups in the
newsletters you send out to your mailing list. How do you see Huerta vs. Guida
going down?

KF: It could go either way. They’re very similar
fighters; both like to go forward (and) like to take down their opponents and
use their ground and pound. So it’s going to be who can play their game better,
who can execute better.

They are both very similar in style but I think Huerta is a
little bigger and maybe a little stronger. Guida is a little faster and a
little more technical with his wrestling. Roger is probably a little better on
the feet with maybe a little more power but Guida may have the more polished
ground game.

It’s definitely very interesting and I think whoever who can
control the wrestling will win that fight.

Q: The UFC’s lightweight division is well-stocked
with talent, but they don’t have all the top guys. One non-UFC lightweight that
has gotten a lot of buzz recently is Gesias "JZ Calvan" Calvancanti.
How do you think he rates against the top lightweights in the UFC?

KF: Oh, JZ is unbelievable. He’s an unbelievable
fighter and just did unbelievably well out in Japan in a tournament (K-1’s
lightweight GP) against two tough fighters (Caol Uno and Andre "Dida"
Amade). He’s a beast, man, and my goal is to try and fight all the top guys and
it would be great if he eventually came to the UFC. I have a lot of respect for
him as I do all the lightweights.

He’s been doing some great things. I know he’s highly ranked
and I’d love to get up there and recognized and get ranked as high as he is and
surpass him. I want to be the number one fighter in the world.

Q: It seems like with each passing fight you improve
another aspect of your game. What’s the next area you’re going to focus on and
try to improve in?

KF: Just everything (but) I guess I’ve been working a
lot on my boxing. I try to work the hands a lot; that’s something I’ve really
been trying to clean up a lot more. I want to get that knockout power. I want
to get a lot bigger and stronger for the next fight so I’ve been doing a lot of
strength conditioning and a lot of power exercises.

My goal is just to get a little better every single day and
you can’t do that if you take a long time off. I have an injury from the last
fight; I have a herniated disk that I had from the Din Thomas fight. I took a
little bit of time off but I’ve consistently been in the gym training and I
want to consistently build on the foundation that I built for the last fight.
If you take too much time off you have to re-learn those skills and then go
forward. I just want to keep building on what I’ve learned and keep growing.

Q: That’s the first I’ve heard about you having a
herniated disk. Is that something that will heal on its own or will you need

KF: No, thankfully it wasn’t as serious. The MRI
showed that it’s not so bad, so I’m happy. I did my physical therapy and it’s
getting better. I’ve been training and I’ve been sparring, so it hasn’t held me
back too much.

Q: You started working with a nutritionist in
preparation for your fight against Alvin Robinson at UFC 73. What was the
biggest change you had to make to your diet?

KF: A lot of it was just the timing of the foods and
the type of foods I was using. Basically, I just took it to the next level as
far as optimizing my energy levels (with) the right foods and just balancing
everything together. My nutritionist is also a nationally ranked tri-athlete,
so he’s tremendous.

He’s an athlete himself and not some guy who is just a
nutritionist who doesn’t do it himself. He actually goes in there and shows
what he does and proves that it works. He’s been amazing just in showing me
what are the right supplements to take and eliminating some supplements — a
lot of supplements don’t work. He showed me really what works and what the
right timing is for foods and what I need to be doing fight week in losing the
weight properly and also putting it back on properly as well. He’s been a huge
help and a great addition to the team. And he also has been monitoring my
cardio and heart rate levels as well.

I’m trying to do everything. I want to do that extra 2
percent that people aren’t doing. Everyone is doing all the right stuff.
Everyone is training hard. Everyone is training in wrestling, jiu-jitsu and
doing their strength conditioning, but you look at the Olympics where someone
wins by 0.0001 — what made that difference? I try to find all those little
advantages. Any little thing that I can do to help my mind, my body, or my
technique, I’m going to use it.

Q: You had Xyience as a sponsor, and I know it’s a
touchy subject because a lot of fighters got screwed over; were you one of the
guys that didn’t get paid?

KF: I was for a while. It took them awhile to pay me.
Luckily I was one of those guys who did eventually get paid but I only worked
with them for one fight. I didn’t have a long-term contract with them. I think
a lot of the problems stemmed from that; they owed money over a lot of fights.
Thankfully they did pay me. Eventually it took them a long time but I was lucky
that I did get paid. (Talks directly into microphone) Sorry guys that didn’t
get paid (laughs).

(props to CBS Sports)


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