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Exclusive: Kenny Florian Back in Training, Hopes to Fight Again Soon

(Photo courtesy of Sherdog)

By Elias Cepeda for

Despite putting together perhaps his most impressive win ever at UFC 107, a second round submission of Clay Guida, Kenny Florian isn’t taking a break just yet. In fact, the lightweight contender tells CagePotato that he wants to fight again within three months.

“I want to get back in there within the next few months. I want to fight every three to four months. That’s when I’m at my best, that’s how I stay healthy and sharp. That’s the best time frame for me,” he says.

Florian (12-4) has yet to get word from his UFC bosses as to what is next for him and when, but hopes to hear something shortly and assumes he’ll be a part of the UFC’s first event in the state of Massachusetts. Florian is a Massachusetts native and resident and after professional MMA became legal and regulated there late last month, an August UFC card in the Boston area has been strongly rumored.

“I have heard nothing from the UFC as of right now but I’m hoping in the next couple weeks to find out. Right now I’m sure they are planning something for me for Boston but I’d like to do something before that and then fight again then. I’m getting right back into training [today] and will be plugging away the next couple of weeks until I hear a date,” Florian says.

Whenever he does get back in the Octagon, Florian says he wants to take on other top contenders in order to put together another title run like he did when he won six consecutive fights and stayed undefeated for over two years before losing to champion BJ Penn last August. “I want the quickest road back to the title,” he says.

If Florian does work his way back to a third title shot he is confident that he’ll be ready to become champion, in large part because of his new coaches and training partners. After becoming the clear number one lightweight title contender while working with coaches like Mark Dellagrote and strength and conditioning guru Kevin Kearns, Florian has switched things up by taking on welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre’s coaches Firas Zahabi (striking/MMA) and Jonathon Chaimberg (conditioning), while keeping boxing coach Peter Welch and his brother Keith around.

“If I had kept training the way I was before, I may have already hit my ceiling but working with Firas, I don’t know what my ceiling of potential is,” Florian says.

“Firas has really improved my striking game and gave me the confidence to do what I needed to do. He is teaching me the proper style for MMA and I’m very, very impressed every time I work with him. We are just scratching the surface because he wanted to add a few things here and there from the way to train to drills and style of striking. I am still adapting to it, definitely.”

Florian’s St. Pierre connection also brought him to the Montreal Wrestling Club, home to Olympic and World champions and the UFC’s 170-pound champion, who has trained there the last several years to become arguably the best wrestler in MMA. Florian’s wrestling looked much improved against Guida, so it’s obvious that the work at the MWC has paid off, but day one on those vaunted mats was pretty intimidating for the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt.

“For me, it kind of felt like a fish out of water,” Florian admits. “I had been to wrestling practices before but it was still a little intimidating. I recognized some faces and Georges would tell me what this guy and that guy had done. My goal was to try not to be the idiot out there. I didn’t even know how to drill moves as far as wrestling goes or the etiquette so I just tried to watch and learn. I didn’t want to screw up. When we went to free wrestle I felt more comfortable because I had done that before, of course I got killed though.”

Despite being a foreigner and having no formal wrestling background, Florian says that the wrestlers went out of their way to teach and support him. “I thought they’d turn their nose up at me but I can’t tell you how many guys went out of their way to help me. They were awesome. I think they saw that I was passionate about learning wrestling and that I had a humble attitude. I appreciated the beauty of wrestling and their technique. They had a lot of Russian coaches and their style is different and such a technical one. And they do watch MMA so they wanted to help me. Plus I was hanging out with Georges so much and they love him.”

In addition to getting the best of wrestling battles inside the cage against accomplished former Division I NCAA wrestlers, St. Pierre was set to vie for a spot on the Canadian national wrestling team for the ’08 Olympic Games before a short notice UFC title fight took him out of the running.
Now there are rumors that St. Pierre will go for a slot at the ’12 games. From what Florian has seen and heard from some of the world’s top wrestlers, St. Pierre may just have the ability to get it done.

“I tell you, it’s amazing,” Florian says of GSP’s wrestling. “When you see it then you’ll believe it. He wrestles with world class guys and gives them all they can handle. As far as guys in his weight class, he can hang with anybody. It’s gotten to the point where he makes it a serious wrestling match with whoever he goes with. Whatever their credentials are, when Georges gets a hold you he’s taking you down. I’m no wrestling expert but based on what I’ve heard from the other wrestlers, he could very well [make the Olympics]. They give him a good shot."

Though there has been much talk of Florian training with St. Pierre, not many fans know how the two fighters began their working relationship. They actually first met as opponents of sorts.

“It’s funny because I first met Georges when he cornered Sam Stout when Sam fought me (in 2006). I got a chance to talk to Georges in Vegas then and he was just a great guy. He was always someone I wanted to train with. I try to train with as many people as possible and I finally had the opportunity to do it a few times before the BJ Penn fight. With him and Firas and a lot of the guys I got to spar with, it was just amazing. But I did it for only about 10-14 days total. After the fight with Penn I knew that Firas was the guy to train with, and to have training partners like GSP and other guys, I couldn’t pass it up,” Florian explains.

Florian, like St. Pierre, is one of the few fighters that seem to get better in between each and every fight and he’s still relatively new to the game as a veteran of just over six years. But the flip side is that at 33 years old, he is also the oldest lightweight contender in the UFC.

From a skill perspective, it seems that there is no limit to how good Florian can become but fans have to wonder if he will have enough time to really hit his potential. For his part, Florian says he doesn’t feel a sense of urgency based on his age.

“It’s funny because I used to have that in my head — that I’d have to be able to know this by this age — but the more I learn and train that feeling is so much further away. I have another solid five years in the game in terms of hitting my physical and technical peak. I don’t know if I’ll end up getting those five years but I do know that there is a lot more to learn and that people haven’t seen anything of what I can do yet.”

Cagepotato Comments

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831 Son- December 22, 2009 at 10:31 am
Like I said before Cheeto, and dont get it twisted fool: No one wants to read some dumb ass boring essay on KenFlo that contains 75 percent quotes. That shit wasnt even that good and was not entertaining whatsoever. It also stated basically everything we already knew. Thats why I said for the Bens to stick to just them doing the writing. Tool.
MyFightWiffaCheeto- December 22, 2009 at 7:12 am
I think Huerta signed with Strikeforce...

Also if you illiterate faggots don't want to read something then go log onto YouTube and watch videos of Brazilian women foxy boxing in Roller skates and thongs.

Don't knock the kid's hard work. Just because 90% of the assholes that come on this site can barely put a sentence together doesn't mean you have to hate on one of the 10%-ers who can.
Randy Pan- December 21, 2009 at 7:41 pm
Kenny Florian is taking the "reinvent myself" / "still peaking" route to make himself still seem relevant as a LW after losing to the utterly dominant champ. Personally, I think the same Florian who lost to Penn could have beaten Guida, without the totally new, career-revitalizing switching of training camps/partners. Florian is a high-caliber LW, dangerous to everyone in the division... except for the champion, who he was destroyed by. At least he's in good company with several upper-level welterweights and middleweights.

Eljroco- December 21, 2009 at 3:19 pm
I'd like to see someone whip Kenny's brother Keith, that little jerkoff is always working extra hard to be in the background of in ring interviews and blowing his wad when Kenny comes up with lame "kill the master" type comments. Maybe put Diego in there with Keith for his comeback match....he'll be one angry man now that Robbins has proved to be a fraud!
Get Off Me- December 21, 2009 at 3:01 pm
Dido for Heurta, I think Maynard got him at the right time, his mindset was not UFC, it was that Arianny girl telling him he could be a movie star. I think Heurta made the black list with Dana, plus Dana gets to keep his ring girl to himself, but if Dana really "makes fights" I would have to expect Heurta coming back.
It's a stretch, but heurta reminds me a bit of BJ when he wasn't taking fighting seriously(minnus the acting thing) He can hang with anyone at lightweight if he comes back and I'd like to see him have only fighting on his mond the next time he steps into the cage.
showbiz- December 21, 2009 at 2:48 pm

that's what she said.

Yeah, it could have been half as long. But for those of us that follow the fights more than the fighters, it was an interesting behind the scenes look.
skeletor- December 21, 2009 at 2:35 pm

to tell you the truth I don't know what the pay scale is that's just what I heard.
steampunk22- December 21, 2009 at 2:22 pm
@831 Son

I actually agree with you. Good article, but it could've been about half as long and twice as effective. There's the setup.....
Dyph- December 21, 2009 at 2:13 pm

So 831 pays him $6 twice for satisfaction?
831 Aunt- December 21, 2009 at 2:12 pm
@ 831 Father - I always told you the kid was no good. And I told you not to let him read about Lyoto, you know what a mindless sheep he is. Ever since CP posted that Lyoto story the kid has been guzzling down every ounce of piss he can get his hands on! Like a Tasmanian devil! A Tasmanian Piss Devil! The cost of whitening strips must be killing you!
skeletor- December 21, 2009 at 2:09 pm
@ Dyph

831 Father said he pays Elias by the inch and it usually costs him about $12.00 before he's satisfied with a days work.
skeletor- December 21, 2009 at 2:05 pm
@ Get of me

I think Huerta can compete with all those guys as long as he stays active and gets his momentum back. He's a good and exciting fighter, I like watching him better then maynard and Edgar. I just hope he didn't piss Dana off so bad they feel the need to keep punishing him.
Dyph- December 21, 2009 at 2:04 pm
Eighteen paragraphs of old new just to tell us that Florian wants to fight again soon is...well, I'm not really sure. It would be great had it been quality writing, but really I have come to expect a higher caliber from CP. This article read to me like a sports-page editor asking the baseball analyst to write up cliff-notes on the last year and a half of Florian's life. Sorry Elias, you don't get paid by the inch here(at least I hope not).

As far as Florian's prospects go in the immediate future, Sanchez rematch stands out, but I can't see Sanchez doing much of anything besides buying tampons for at least 8 weeks. Maynard or Edgar could be quality matches, but making Florian another step for those guys before getting destroyed by BJ essentially just puts BJ out of action. I can't see more rungs to climb for at least one of those guys currently. I think unfortunately that Kenny is going to be the Rich Franklin of LW for a while, no-where to go but down since he can't possibly challenge the title-holder.
showbiz- December 21, 2009 at 1:41 pm
Quality article - Elias did his homework. It's interesting to see how different fighters end up meeting and training with one another.
831 Father- December 21, 2009 at 1:40 pm
Guys, see what MMA does to children? It turned my son into a foul-mouthed moron who's very confrontational when he's got his keyboard in hand.
831 Son- December 21, 2009 at 1:32 pm
831 Father, why are you so infatuated with me you fucking loser? Go kill yourself troll.
Get Off Me- December 21, 2009 at 1:31 pm
Heurta....ah yes nice one.
If Florian wants to fight "soon" I doubt Diego will be ready.
I'd like to see Edgar v. Florian and Maynard v. Diaz winner goes on and fights for the "next guy to lose to BJ" spot.
Maybe Heurta comes back for Diego!!????? that would be great no?
831 Father- December 21, 2009 at 1:28 pm
3 months? He's got nothing on Koscheck. Man up, KenFlo.
831 Son- December 21, 2009 at 1:28 pm
What is this? Practice for English class? Stop posting these Ben's. Anyone can write a boring short essay with 60% quotes. Stick to just you guys doing the writing and whatnot.

No hard feelings though Elias..
skeletor- December 21, 2009 at 1:26 pm
I'd like to see him fight Maynard, or Edgar, mainly because those guys need to be beat so we don't have to pay for an event with either of them fighting Penn. But the obvious choice I guess would be rematch with Diego.

has anyone heard about what Huerta is doing next? I know he said he wanted to re-up with the UFC.
cagefightmon- December 21, 2009 at 1:22 pm
Nice work, Strikeforce!
Great fights!