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· Kenny Florian ~ My Life Is MMA

· Article author: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Posted on 01/06 at 05:00 PM

How does a guy go from a Division I collegiate soccer player and a job in finance to being a championship caliber mixed martial arts fighter? If you are UFC lightweight contender Kenny ‘Ken-Flo’ Florian, the answer is easy. “You don’t see the natural transition from soccer to MMA? (he said laughing) I have always loved the beauty and skill of the martial arts. Being one who has competed in something my whole life, I saw MMA as the ultimate in competition (no pun intended). We all fight our whole lives to a certain extent. Training for a fight and fighting is the ultimate life lesson. I want to live a life that is enjoyable and filled with great memories. Living a healthy lifestyle, pushing yourself to your limits, and trying to better yourself, are all things that few people are doing today. I do what I love to do and I truly feel blessed.”

Florian (13-3), coming off of a submission win over Joe Stevenson at UFC 91, and riding an incredible six fight win streak, is poised to once again fight for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight Championship. During his streak, the always dangerous striker and grappler, has also defeated Dokonjonosuke Mishima, Alvin Robinson, Din Thomas, Joe Lauzon, and Roger Huerta, with only the Huerta victory going to the judges’ scorecards. And now it would seem that his quest to get another shot at the title is upon him. “I am not sure which fight is next but I am pretty certain it will be for the belt. I assume it will be with B.J. [UFC Lightweight Champion – B.J. Penn] but nothing is certain especially since B.J. beating G.S.P. [UFC Welterweight Champion – Georges St. Pierre] is a real possibility. I guess I will know more after Jan. 31st.” Florian, however, does admit that he is not in control of what happens next when it comes to his title opportunities. “The UFC and B.J. Penn will make the decision. When they give me a fight for the belt, I will take it.” When asked directly about a potential fight with Penn, and if he would be prepared, Florian would say, “I am ready to fight the best opponents in the world. I train everyday for this opportunity, to face the best. B.J. Penn is the best lightweight in the world and one of the best pound for pound.”

Coming into the UFC, via The Ultimate Fighter television reality show, Ken-Flo was considered to be a scrappy grappler. But, as time has gone by, fans and fighters alike have found a new perspective on Kenny’s ability. “I think people are showing me way more respect. It is great to get appreciation from the common fan and hardcore followers. Starting off my UFC career with a terrible loss, like the one I had against Diego Sanchez, was a rough first impression. Hopefully I can continue to get more fans but my first priority is to constantly improve and keep a beginner’s mind.” That loss to Sanchez came on The Ultimate Fighter Finale, where both competed as Middleweights (185 lbs). Florian almost immediately dropped down to Lightweight (155 lbs.) where he naturally competes, and Sanchez has fought exclusively as a Welterweight (170 lbs.) since then. As fate would have it. Florian is now at the top of the heap in the lightweight division, and Diego Sanchez will be making his debut in the same division soon. He would have this to say about a potential rematch to avenge that loss; “I am sure Diego and I will meet if we both continue to do well. It would be a great fight.”

As he has grown and evolved as a fighter, Kenny’s approach to the mental side of fighting has led him to train and develop through unique perspectives. “I have studied many disciplines and I believe that there isn’t any one technique or discipline that is more important than the other. You never know what kind of a fight it will be. You have to be prepared for everything. When you go into the battlefield, you better have your rifle, your handgun and some other weapons with you. Being caught without one of those can be the end of you. That is how I see it in the octagon.” He goes on to opine about other fighters competing for the same prize he is, and where they rank. “There are many great fighters in the lightweight division. Too many to name or rank. The ones that impress me most are the true MMA fighters. The guys who are dangerous everywhere. The days of hearing “he’s a wrestler” or “he’s a striker” are over. If you are one or the other, you don’t belong in the upper echelon. It doesn’t mean they are not good fighters; I just feel that to truly be elite, you need to be more than just well rounded. You have to be a threat at all ranges.” Above all the techniques and training, Florian points to the one attribute that he thinks will make him a champion in the very near future, “My mind.”

The Boston, MA resident’s focus on his training leads him to block out a lot of the distractions and discussions that many times follow a fighter. In his own words, he discusses rankings or keeping a list of fighters that he’d like to compete against; “I try not to pay attention to the top 10 rankings but there are certainly guys outside of the UFC that should be mentioned in there. I just wanna fight the best guys. I don’t know how much longer I will be around in this sport. I just wanna continue testing myself against the most skilled fighters on the planet.” As far as the looming fight between St. Pierre and Penn, one that directly affects Kenny’s career, he would tell his opinion on the upcoming ‘super fight’; “Both of these guys can win this fight. They are so evenly skilled with just different twists on their styles. If I had to bet, I would bet on the underdog. B.J. Penn is the underdog right now, so let’s go with him. I am a fan of both these guys and these are the two best going at it. I am very excited for this fight.”

As with any great fighter, there are bound to be dozens of people that can be credited for contributing to his/her success. Ken-Flo’s influences are no different, and he is quick to give credit where it is due. “I do most of my training with my brother Keith at Florian Martial Arts center and I also train boxing with Peter Welch at the F-15 Training center in South Boston. I also do my strength and conditioning with Kevin Kearns. Mark DellaGrotte (Team Sityodtong) is very knowledgeable in the striking game and offers perfect instruction on the fundamentals of muay thai. He is an impressive overall martial artist as well. There have been a countless amount of people that have helped me; because everyone I have ever trained with or talked to in my life has helped me. My brother Edgar really started me from a young age in understanding the mentality of a fighter. I’ll give him some individual credit for making me tough as a youngster, but there are really too many to name.” Lately, Kenny has spent a great deal of time training at his own gym that he and Keith opened recently. “It is has been a long time dream of ours to open up a gym where we can share our style of martial arts to others. My brother Keith is one of my main MMA coaches and has been my training partner since Day One. He has helped me tremendously and has helped shape our style of self defense and our fighting style. We are located in Brookline, Mass, about a mile down the street from Fenway Park, so we are in a great location, close to public transportation, and the many universities in the Boston area. Our website is”

Even Kenny’s downtime is chocked full of fighting. His success in the cage has awarded many opportunities for him outside of it. He is a regular co-host for ESPN’s MMA Live. He has also filled in as a guest analyst on UFC Pay Per View broadcasts; even stepping in to do the full color commentary at UFC 83. Asked if he envisioned even more broadcasting in the future, Florian would say: “My life is MMA. Right now I am very busy so I have a lot on my plate right now. In the future, I would love to do more but right now fighting is still my first priority.” Kenny has also found himself an ambassador of MMA everywhere he travels. “I am lucky that I have many fans from all over the world. My goal has never been to be famous. I just love the sport of MMA and love being involved with it.” His thought that UFC will someday hold a show in the New England area, where he and many other UFC stars live and train: “I certainly hope so. My family and friends over here keep bothering me about it.”

Kenny ‘Ken-Flo’ Florian would like to thank: “I definitely want to thank all the fans for their support. I would like to thank Tapout and One More Round Clothing. Check out as well for the latest info on what I am doing next.” *

by J. Andrew Yount

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