(Photo courtesy of MMAWeekly.)
By CagePotato contributor Elias Cepeda
Kenny Florian‘s domination of PRIDE legend Takanori Gomi at Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 21 made a couple things perfectly clear: First, that Gomi can no longer hang with the division’s elite fighters. Also, that the constantly improving Florian is undoubtedly one of the very best 155-pounders in the world. In this exclusive interview, Ken-Flo takes us through his fight with the Fireball Kid, and discusses life in the UFC’s lightweight division, where the championship belt continues to lie maddeningly out of reach…
CAGEPOTATO.COM: Very early on in your fight against Gomi, you began to get the better of him standing up. Soon you began dancing around, leaning over, dropping your hands. Was that just one of those things where you got so comfortable that you got a bit cocky, or were you trying to goad him into doing something in particular?
FLORIAN: No, it’s part of a rhythm. It’s a calculated part of a boxing rhythm you try to get yourself into to make sure that I keep my head moving and I stay loose. It’s a swagger you need to have. It’s my way of making sure that there is no catching me when I’m moving, when I’m punching, and it has really helped me, not only in my training, but I think in the fight to have that looseness and relaxation. I’ve just been working on my boxing technique a lot and I’m glad I was able to show that.
In the third round, Gomi landed what appeared to be his cleanest punch of the fight. A few seconds later you took him down, and about a minute later you finished him by choke. Was your plan to basically stand with Gomi until he showed you something, then put him on his back to make things easier for yourself?
Well I knew that he would start to get fatigued. He was losing the first two rounds and I knew he’d start to get desperate and he’d start to get upright. That was going to allow me the space and ability to get to his legs. And that’s what happened. I had planned to take him down in the third round, I knew that was going to happen, I knew he was going to get tired and he’d be easier to finish. By that time I think he was worn out, mentally, physically, and just didn’t have an answer, was frustrated. And I saw a perfect opportunity to go for his legs. I took him down and tried to capitalize.
So it didn’t have to do with him finally landing a good shot?
Not at all. He was landing shots before that, you know. He was able to sting me in the second round. In the third round there was nothing that hurt me. Watching the video tape it looked like that was the cleanest shot but that wasn’t the one that hurt. In the second round, that hurt.