The heavily anticipated bout at UFC 101: Declaration between reigning lightweight champion BJ Penn and top contender Kenny Florian is drawing near . . . and the tension is heating up. The personal friction between the former friends is palpable after Penn publicly denounced Ken-Flo for denying sending him a text in which he referred to UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre as a “roider and a greaser”.
Despite their personal problems outside the octagon, the two fighters admit to having tremendous respect for one another’s skills as mixed martial artists in the latest issue of Fighters Only Magazine.
“No matter what I think about Kenny personally, I like his style, I really do,” Penn explained. “I think he judges distance very well, he’s got nice kicks, good jiu jitsu, if he wants to take someone down he can. I think he is a student of the game, a true mixed martial artist.”.
Florian expects to get nothing less than Penn’s A-game, stating “I think BJ is going to be motivated after his loss to GSP. I think he will be training harder than ever and he will be at his best.” He went on to refer to Penn as a master of the sport, but admitted that “it’s time to kill the master”.
Ken-Flo’s confidence is at an all time high following 6 consecutive victories, most impressive of which was his last – a first round submission over Joe Stevenson.
And with the rumor-mill spinning that Penn’s career may be winding down, the 30-year-old Hawaiian native is focused on proving his critics wrong and seeking an eventual re-match with GSP.
“I’m gonna stand tall and we’ll see how the future goes,” Penn stated. “I am not looking past Kenny Florian in any way, but my gameplan is to beat Kenny Florian, beat the next guy and you know, if GSP is still around, let’s see. What goes around comes around.”
UFC 101: Declaration takes place on Saturday, August 8th in Philadpelphia, PA. The event will also feature a light-heavyweight clash between Anderson Silva and Forrest Griffin.