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After Takedown Clinic Against Maynard, Florian Hires Wrestling Coach

(Who’s the tough guy? PicProps: Fight! Magazine)

File this under Least Surprising News of the Week: In the wake of getting thoroughly outwrestled by Gray Maynard at UFC 118 last month, Kenny Florian is vowing to make some wholesale changes in his training. Florian says he’s hired a wrestling coach from Boston University to help him with his grappling, so that he won’t get held down en route to a unanimous decision loss again anytime soon.

And frankly, this is a good example of yet another reason why KenFlo is one of the more likable fighters in all of MMA. Rather than taking the Dan Hardy approach — where you respond to your team’s multiple wrestling-based losses by publishing a screed in the local newspaper where you insist that (and, yes, this is an exact quote): “The problem is there’s beginning to be too much wrestling in the UFC Octagon, not too little of it in the (Team Roughouse) gym,” – Florian is opting to actually do something about it, trying to get better and keeping his dream of one day holding a UFC title alive.

“I kind of feel like this was one of the most frustrating losses that I’ve ever had and it was a fight I definitely learned a lot from,” he tells “I’m very motivated and I had to come back to training quickly. I’ve already started training and did a hard conditioning session (Tuesday). I’m just motivated to work very hard and get right back into it.”

Florian’s new wrestling instructor is Sean Gray, who Google tells us is a former two-time All-American at Virginia Tech entering his sixth season as an assistant for the Terriers. He graduated in 2003, but still holds the Hokies’ all-time marks in a number of statistical categories including wins (133-19), winning percentage (.850), pins (45) and pins in a single season (15). So, yeah, seems like he knows his shit.

Florian says he’s looking to March(ish) 2011 for a possible return to the Octagon. Until, then it’ll be full speed ahead with training. Names abound for a possible next opponent, including up-and-coming ground whiz George Sotiropoulos. Sotiropoulos was rumored by his own hometown newspaper this week to be next up for either BJ Penn or Florian, though reports out on Wednesday say he’ll fight Joe Lauzon at UFC 123 in Nov. Still, depending on how that goes, it’s not unthinkable that the winner could be able to turn it around to face Florian early next year.

“It looks like my training team wants me to fight in another five months," Florian says. "I’m more motivated than ever. I’m pissed, to be honest. I want to crush my training. That’s what I’m focused on right now.”

I tell ya, this Florian kid is so pragmatic, it hurts.

Cagepotato Comments

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MoTropolis- September 8, 2010 at 6:15 pm
He should start by wrestling off that leather jacket.
agentsmith- September 8, 2010 at 3:13 pm
I HATE dump-n-hump wrestlers like Jon Fitch, but on the other hand, the bottom line is everyone else just needs to learn better takedown defense and then all those boring wrestlers will be exposed as the one-trick ponies that they are. As soon as Jon Fitch can't consistently hit his takedowns anymore he'll be fucked, cause that's all he's got. It's that simple.
Jubbie- September 8, 2010 at 3:12 pm
I really don't know if this will even help him win a fight against Maynard unless it's in a title fight. When I play a three round fight through my mind, all I see is a clinchfest with Maynard having a slight advantage and maybe grabbing one or two takedowns to edge out a decision. That said, at least he's trying something. I hope he learns a triangle too.
RwilsonR- September 8, 2010 at 2:54 pm
I absolutely agree with you on the kicks/knees to the head if it is an up-kick. Having that banned is absurd. If you are on your back, and your opponent is on his knees, have at it with kicking the fucker in the face. There should be no rules against that, and even the guys who don't like knees and kicks on the ground shouldn't have a problem with a knee or kick coming from a guy whose back is on the ground.

I'd also be very in favor of 12 to 6 elbows to the back of an opponent shooting in for a takedown. Maybe keep the back of the head/neck as an off-limits area, but you should have some tools to make them pay as they shoot in to grab a double-leg.
Kicktothegroin- September 8, 2010 at 1:30 pm
@ RwilsonR

I know we are getting into dangerout EliteXC territory giving the refs that kind of discretion, but it's really necessary at this point, we obviously can't rely on the Judging. I guess giving the W to the guy on top is all they seem to know how to do with any reliability.

MMA has evolved/been regulated away from the early days of rabbit punches and chin to the eye submissions. I think one area that the rules have gone too far are no kicks or knees to the head of a grounded opponents. We should allow them, only for the opponent on his back. If the "boring wrestler" wades in too carelessly, he can get KO'd by a well placed upkick. There's no excessive danger in letting that happen, it's not like he can bring all his weight down on the opponent's skull from the bottom, and it might give a downed opponent a chance to get up and keep the pace moving ...
Fried Taco- September 8, 2010 at 1:17 pm
So K-Flo is learning how to be a boring fighter. Great.
Get Off Me- September 8, 2010 at 12:57 pm
I've said it now for a long time, 60 seconds to advance position on the ground or the fight gets stood back up.

I think wrestling has a place in MMA, but there is a reason wrestling outside of MMA takes place on a mat with boundries, because otherwise the action would lull like it does in the cage. I am O.K. with watching takedowns and GNP, but paramount to that I want excitement and decisiveness in my fights. A wrestler who hits 3-4 takedowns in a 15min fight and wins 30-27 across the board is not excitement, conversely if he hits possibly 10 takedowns in 15 mins, it would give the fight more pace and offer more excitement.

My biggest problem with MMA right now is the question....a wrestler in an oppenents guard for 5 minutes(provided both are working strikes from bottom and top like we always see) who wins the round? I think 4 takedowns in one round would settle the question as opposed to one and done like so many high level wrestlers enjoy today.
RwilsonR- September 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm
I am a bit torn over the whole stalling issue, and what to do about it. On the one hand, I agree with Joe Rogan that there are only 5 minutes in a round, just let them fight and don't interfere. And I agree that it is incumbent upon the person being handled to stop the wrestler from engaging in their game. On the other hand, LnP and WnS are incredibly boring. And I don't mind grappling, as I find some of the intracacies of a good BJJ match to be very exciting. I even enjoy a lot of the aspects of wrestling, just not the riding on top, or pressing against a wall. But I don't like refs having too much discretion in standing them up.

Even changing judging criteria is tough, because while the wrestler on top or pushing a guy against the fence may not be doing much to win, he is still probably doing more than the person that is stuck under him.

I think the best solution may be what Kicktothegroin suggests, and that Dana doesn't offer these people fights that advance them through the ranks, and certainly doesn't offer title shots to people who only win through these means. The problem is then they effectively become gatekeepers. Eventually a guy like Maynard as a gatekeeper will accrue a huge record of wins with no real advancement in the division, but there are a lack of decent title challengers since he has knocked them all off before they could get win streaks going.

I honestly don't know the best way to solve this. The bonuses seemed like a good way, but a guy knocking on the door of a title shot like Maynard or Fitch doesn't seem to care about taking a chance for $60K, and probably think they will make more as a champion anyway so it isn't worth the risk.
Kicktothegroin- September 8, 2010 at 12:29 pm
Obviously Dan Hardy and crew do need to work on their wrestling. But he made a few decent points in his article. Fighting passively is contrary to the the spirit of MMAFights will only become as boring an lay and pray or wall and stall as the refs let them become.

I've been noticing that recently the wrestlers seem to be getting better at establishing control in more (seemingly aggresive) positions than just top, in the opponents guard. It seems the refs are too hesitant to stand up a fight if a fighter's in a more dominant position, such as side control, working for the back against the fence with wrist control. The refs have to break the fighters when these positions stall out, or we just end up watching another snoozer like Winner-Lentz, or Fitch-Alves 2. Or conversely, Dana could just start booting some of these decision makers out of the UFC and stop recruiting hard up for work ex collegiate wrestlers.
k-onda- September 8, 2010 at 12:05 pm
Let's see: "After take down clinic _______ hires wrestling coach." This perfectly applies to many a very good fighter, and more so every passing day it seems. Rogan's been saying it for years, that wrestling provides the best base from which to enter MMA, and I'll give him credit for being spot on there. I just wish all these wrestlers possessed some ability to end a fight!
Speaking of Ken Flo specifically - I'm worried about him over training. I know for a fact it's possible to break down your body when you're trying to build it up and looking at his remarks above, I can see him doing that. The kid is talented, I'd like to see him succeed some day.
Get Off Me- September 8, 2010 at 11:36 am
@RwilsonR cup of coffee is being made right now.
At least the CP nation can find excitement with Fitch, Shields and Maynard through jokes if not through their fights.

I don't think wrestling was the only thing going wrong for Kenny that night, it was more not getting out of the blocks from the get go. Diaz outstuck Maynard and I really thought Kenny was going to give Gray the Gomi treatment, but much to my dismay, Kenny worked off his back foot and almost offered Gray the takedown all night.
eatthecage- September 8, 2010 at 11:36 am
He has never looked more like Ben Stiller than in this picture.
RwilsonR- September 8, 2010 at 11:13 am
Well, Florian was training wrestling with GSP, so it isn't like he was ignoring it. It is just a fact that he could probably train wrestling straight for the next two years and still not be on Maynard's level with it. Florian isn't GSP, and isn't able to pick things up as quickly as GSP does.

Still, I'm very much like Rex in my assessment of the guy. I couldn't stand him on TUF, and didn't really like him until after the Sherk fight. But he made changes at every step and really improved dramatically. I'm a big fan of the guy now, and know he will work hard on his deficiencies. I just think KenFlo may have peaked at about the #3 or 4 in his division. He is tall and lanky, and has decent striking with good kicks, but no KO power. He has good jiu-jitsu, but not a terribly threatening guard. He has okay wrestling, but not enough to stop a bulldozer like Maynard. He is well-rounded, but Florian's best asset has always been his top game. He advances position well, and uses some really brutal elbows for GnP. Without the wrestling to stop Maynard's takedowns or the guard to threaten him, or the ability to take Penn down to stop his striking, Florian doesn't have an opportunity to do what he does best.

Still, I always thought Florian vs. Edgar would be an interesting fight. Florian's height might allow him to pull Edgar up off of his base on the takedowns, and enable him to keep it on his feet. Florian is also much smarter than BJ, and might be able to adjust his gameplan to Edgar's frantic changes to keep him guessing. Like when Edgar would circle towards his power leg, I don't see Florian going the same route as Penn and neglecting to throw those kicks. Could be a good fight.
RwilsonR- September 8, 2010 at 11:09 am
@ Get Off Me -Breaking news! Maynard hired two new "Exciting Fights" coaches. They will be Jon Fitch and Jake Shields.
Get Off Me- September 8, 2010 at 11:04 am
Does this mean that Maynard will now go out and hire an "exciting fights" coach?

Kenny was up here in Montreal training wrestling with GSP in preparation for his fight with Gray....problem I found with that strategy is that GSP's wrestling is unique, it almost can't be taught in many ways as it is more of a gift than anything else. I would like to see Kenny get a year under his belt with this new trainer and go back after Gray.
bgaspar_00- September 8, 2010 at 10:53 am
FLorian has the right idea, hopefully silva does the same thing...
GILL-uh-TEEN- September 8, 2010 at 10:48 am
I like Florian and I can see him being a big force in MMA even when his fighting days are over. He's smart and well spoken, so he'd make a good commentator. He's skilled and experienced, so he'd make a good trainer. I'd love for him to claim the belt just once before his days are over, but he's still got time.
Viva Hate- September 8, 2010 at 10:44 am
Florian vs. Tyson Griffin seems like a great match up.

Griffin is coming off 2 losses, he is a strong wrestler so this gives Kenny a chance to show he has progressed against a wrestler.

It makes sense to me for all parties involved.
ReX13- September 8, 2010 at 10:42 am
I really wasn't impressed with Mr KenFlo in the first TUF season. After realizing how much better he was at his natural weight class and reading a couple of interviews, i was a fan. I'm still a fan. I hope Florian can get it together and make one more run, but i worry that his window is closing.

steampunk22- September 8, 2010 at 10:40 am
Painful to see KenFlo lose that fight.

This is one of the few guys though were you can say "He'll be back" and he actually will be. Guy hasn't had back to back losses in five years.
entisgood- September 8, 2010 at 10:39 am
Better late than never, but didn't Florian think he'd need to work on wrestling BEFORE his fight with someone known to be a boring, hold you down and do no damage wrestler?