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Exclusive: Kenny Florian Talks Takanori Gomi, Diego Sanchez, and More

by Cage Potato contributor Elias Cepeda

After a dominant win over Clay Guida, Kenny Florian is setting his sights on UFC newcomer and former Pride champ Takanori Gomi.  In the exclusive talk with Cage Potato, he gives us his thoughts on the match-up, and lets us know how he really feels about seeing his old nemesis Diego Sanchez fleeing the lightweight division.

Fans have followed your twitter posts and saw you yesterday on ESPN’s “MMA Live” talking about fighting Takanori Gomi. Has anything developed further since then? Is the fight officially signed by all parties?

No nothing has been signed as of right now. We’re in talks and its being talked about as a main event of the March Fight Night card in North Carolina. I’m excited with that possibility but nothing has been signed yet. Of course it’s something that I’m willing to sign and I’m sure Gomi will as well when the contract has been delivered.

Were you surprised when it was announced that Gomi was signed by the UFC? He’s struggled since 2006 when he lost to BJ Penn. We are both different fighters from the first time we fought and of course I’d love a rematch with Diego. Who knows? Maybe it’s still something that could happen, you know? Maybe we could meet at a catch weight or maybe we could do it at 155. I think Diego wants big fights. I still see this as a viable option in the future.

You talk about this in a very calm and classy way, and you did that yesterday in your role as a commentator for “MMA Live.” But given that Diego was talking a lot when he moved down to lightweight basically saying, ‘I saw Kenny doing so well and I kicked Kenny’s ass so I should be able to do really well,’ – I know you saw those comments and you’re not with “MMA Live” right now, you’re talking with CagePotato. Is there any satisfaction in seeing Diego decide that he can’t do it at lightweight and go up to welterweight again?

(Laughs) You know, I pretty much predicted that. The skill level at 155lbs is the best in the UFC, if you look across the board, in terms of well-rounded fighters. You are not going to come in to the UFC 155 division and start finishing guys right away. People see me doing it and what do they think I’m doing, just lying around not training? I train my ass off every single day to be able to do that and it’s not an easy thing to be able to finish guys at 155. That’s something I really pride myself on. The only guys, I think, at 155 that are consistently finishing people are me and BJ Penn. I think that takes a special skill to be able to do that. Not everybody can do that, I don’t promise to be able to do that all the time but that’s the way I fight and that’s the way I train to fight.

Diego thought he was going to be able to go out there and just smash people at 155. Not going to happen, Diego. The skill level is too good out there. You have to be very, very well rounded. He thought what he was able to do at 170, he was going to do even better at 155 and that’s just not the case. It just shows me the talent that is out there at 155. In my opinion, Diego just never looked great at 155.

Cagepotato Comments

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Frank Mur- January 24, 2010 at 7:56 pm
Cool, MMA Samurai said everything I was thinking and I didn't have to type it. That shit would have taken me two hours to type!
Cpt Insano...are you KenFlo's mom?
Elias- January 24, 2010 at 10:23 am
Glad you enjoyed it, TO, thanks for reading and commenting everyone!
mma samurai- January 24, 2010 at 9:43 am
BJ didn't want to go to the ground with KenFlo? Dude he submitted him with a rear naked choke. Are you serious? I agree with Capt Insano the only reason BJ didn't go straight for the ground is because he didn't have to. He wanted to stand and trade with him. BJ's boxing is top notch, his takedown defense is legendary and I think everyone already knows about BJ's BJJ (wow say that 5 times fast lol). BJ is just on another level compared to the rest of the division.

That being said, I do really like Florian as a fighter and an ambassador for the sport. He's very well rounded, educated and spoken. I think his match with Gomi is going to be great. Florian is a jitz guy and Gomi is a wrestler, both like to stand and trade, Florian I feel is the more technical striker but I give Gomi the knockout power advantage (see Gomi vs Azeredo or Gomi vs Ralph Gracie....etc). I think with them both having great ground games this will turn into a striking match. It's hard to pick a side because I like Florian for the reasons I mentioned above but, I have always been a fan of Gomi's as well. He's a great fighter and a legend in the sport and his weight class. I hope he doesn't have the "Pride to the UFC curse" like so many other former Pride fighters (Cro Cop, Wanderlei and Sodkuju...). I'm just surprised to see so many people write him off because he's been 2-2 lately. How many other greats haven't had a similar "slump" and then come back to dominate and do well. I think people are just a little too quick to give up on him.

As far as a Florian vs Sanchez rematch, I'd have to go with Florian. Sanchez I think is a guy who bought into his own hype way too much. He destroyed some guys yeah and he has a great work ethic and never quite style but, Florian I feel is just too technical for him and has improved leaps and bounds since their first meeting. Not to mention Florian was fighting 2 weight classes above his normal weight class for the show. Diego could be a MW or a WW but I think the cut to 155 is too much for him and he should stay at the large weight classes (Nate Diaz pay no attention to my last sentence, this doesn't apply to you). I mean Sanchez lost once at 155 and ran away. No there is no shame in losing to BJ but he gave up after one loss. Final summation, Florian by submission.
KTM 212- January 24, 2010 at 8:59 am
Kenflo is a cool dude and I think hes right about him and BJ being the two best in LW, but BJ is on his own level in LW.
Randy Pan- January 23, 2010 at 5:16 pm
Anyone see that ESPN show right after 101 where Kurt Pellegrino claimed that Florian won the first three rounds against Penn? Shit was hilarious.
Forehead Vein- January 23, 2010 at 3:43 pm
BJ Penn>Diego Sanchez

Diego Sanchez>KenFlo

The math is simple. Just because Kenflo actually finished Guida, doesn't mean squat, certainly not that he's better than Diego. Just ask Swick.

Also, I thoroughly enjoy capt. insano
iDestroy- January 23, 2010 at 3:23 pm
I just wanna see him avenge those losses. I too think he'd beat sherk easily, but kenflo v. The nightmare would be a great fight and awesome grudge match.
VadersAsthmaMeds- January 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm
capt. insano has the coolest name
capt. insano- January 23, 2010 at 1:53 pm
Not even BJ wanted to go to the ground with Florian?.....why because he kept Kenny from taking him down. The only reason BJ didn't want to go to the ground with Kenny is because he wanted to beat him up standing. BJ is on another level than Kenny. Just ask Kenny. Bj has never been knocked out or submitted by ANYONE...After seeing BJ fight recently, I think its safe to say Florian still doesn't have a chance.
capt. insano- January 23, 2010 at 1:46 pm
As much as I hate to say it, I think Florian would sub Gomi. It's a bad matchup for him stylistically.

On the other hand, what makes you think that Kenny will smash BJ the second time around? He didn't really land many strikes and there isn't a lot of people in the world that can put BJ on his back. If you think that Kenny is going to give BJ any trouble in any aspect the game, then you must be talking about a different BJ Penn.
GetUpAndKill- January 23, 2010 at 1:27 pm
@ Vader

Don't worry...the CDN team will take care of that for ya
side.check.kick- January 23, 2010 at 12:56 pm
I doubt this dude will ever get that belt.
LargeMidget- January 23, 2010 at 12:14 pm
Kenflo would rape sherk, it's not worth his time. The real test would be Maynard, but we've seen how one dimensional fighters have fared against Kenny lately (they get choked out). Not even BJ wanted to go to the ground with Kenny.
VadersAsthmaMeds- January 23, 2010 at 11:04 am
Sherk Schmerk. He's finished. Only question is, does he know it yet.
iDestroy- January 23, 2010 at 10:38 am
I'm a big fan of gomi. He's my #4 favorite lightweight. I really hope he got back on track with his new camp and everything.

I don't really like this match up though. I'd rather see kenflo get another shot at Diego or sherk and let gomi have a warm up match.
Thatsozay- January 23, 2010 at 10:04 am
I'm suprised there isn't a bunch of idiots complaining that this is all qoutes! Great interview Elias, I love it when reporters ask questions like that last one to fighters. You managed to get Mr. Nice Guy to talk shit.
Wrye Bash- January 23, 2010 at 10:04 am
Exactly. Or flying armbar.

Nevermind. Same thing, you guys!
jimbonics- January 23, 2010 at 9:37 am
Gomi def. Florian due to sheer awesomeness.
VadersAsthmaMeds- January 23, 2010 at 9:32 am
The skill level at 155 is the best in the UFC? I think GSP, Koscheck, Fitch, Alves, Swick, et al would disagree. Who the fuck does 155 have other than Florian, Penn and guida? Diaz is worth dog shit right now, Stevenson had to drop from MW to WW and finally to LW in order to be competitive. Maynard is all but irrelevant right now, and nobody knows what's happening with Huerta.

Florian's a nice guy and comes across with class (usually,) but I think he's a sucker for his own hype. Oh, and I would love to see him and Sanchez meet again. Neither is the fighter they were before, and if Sanchez can get over the wreckage that Penn gave him he'll still be a threat. I think that's the only fight in the LW division that could draw interest these days.

Oh, and I hope the US hockey team chokes at the Olympics.
LargeMidget- January 23, 2010 at 9:30 am
Kenflo is the man. 6 rear-naked choke finishes in the UFC. The lightweight division is not only the most competative in the UFC, but Kenflo is in a league of his own. Diego wants to talk shit but he barely beat Guida when Kenflo punk'd him and choked him out in round 2. So much for the carpenter's ability to stifle jiu-jitsu...

Kenny will smash BJ the second time around, all he needed was a better gameplan. Gomi doesn't even stand a chance. I predict Kenny leaves him a bloody mess whether he finishes it or not.

GetUpAndKill- January 23, 2010 at 9:18 am
Very good read. I think Kenflo is right on in the last question. Lightwieght is a different realm.
itsgalf- January 23, 2010 at 9:06 am
He's a different guy! The Kenny Florian of today would school the Kenny Florian of 1 month ago
Wrye Bash- January 23, 2010 at 8:48 am
KFlo is scared, you guys!