Top UFC lightweight contender Kenny “Ken-Flo” Florian recently took the time to speak with Mark Wayne of Fightline to discuss his upcoming bout with Gray Maynard, his position as an analyst on ESPN’s MMA Live, the role his coaches play in his continued development and grappling the Boston Bruins.
Florian has also been tapped to be the spokesperson for FLO TV, the mobile TV category leader. FLO TV is now offering live mobile pay-per-view coverage of UFC fights, including this Saturday’s UFC 114. Fans can now watch all the action from the octagon live from almost anywhere with FLO TV. You can go to FLO TV for more information.
Check out the full interview below:
Fightline: First of all Kenny, congratulations on ESPN MMA Live’s move up from the internet to ESPN2.
Florian: Thank you.
Fightline: I enjoy your analysis on there, you do a great job.
Florian: I appreciate it man, thank you.
Fightline: Let’s get right into it. You recently had a staph infection in your knee; a picture of your very swollen and infected knee made the rounds on the internet and it was announced shortly thereafter that you underwent minor surgery to correct the problem. Are you now fully recovered?
Florian: I am, yeah. It healed very nicely. I took about a month and a week, a month and ten days, off from training to let it heal. They leave the wound open, you know, so the infection will drain out. They don’t suture it up so I kind of had to wait for that to heal, I had to wait for the bursitis itself to kind of ease down and calm down in my knee but I’ve been back training now for a few weeks and back doing two-a-days pretty consistently. Everything’s going great, man. Training’s great.
Fightline: That’s good to hear. Are you training in Massachusetts currently? I know that you often bounce around to different camps or work with different coaches while you are training, like Firas Zahabi at the Tristar Gym.
Florian: Yeah, yeah, I’m in Boston. I do most of my training here and I go every so often to Montreal and to Renzo Gracie’s in New York City.
Fightline: Speaking of going to Montreal, I just watched the video that depicts your friend and training partner Georges St. Pierre engaging in a friendly grappling match with Montreal Canadiens enforcer Georges LaRaque…
Florian: [Laughs] Yeah, I saw that.
Fightline: Are we going to see you taking on any of the Boston Bruins anytime soon?
Florian: [Laughs] No, but I do hope to work with Shawn Thornton from the Bruins. He said he wants to train with me over the summer, he said he’s going to stick around in the summertime so hopefully I can get a chance to work with him a little bit. I’m sure he and my brother will be working out as well so it should be cool. He’s a great guy and it should be fun.
Fightline: Nice, man. What impresses me most about you is that you seem to blend tactics and game planning really well with the willingness to take chances in order to finish the fight. Would you agree with that and can you comment on your general approach to fighting?
Florian: Yeah, you know, I think my approach is one that’s always to go out there and put my stamp on the fight. And by that I mean I want to determine the fight, I want to determine everything about the fight. I want to determine how it’s fought, when it’s fought and I want to determine the ending of the fight. That’s just my mentality as a martial artist. I think what really truly defines the martial arts is using that final blow, that final technique to defeat your opponent and I’ve always just had that in my mind. I’ve always had that since jiu-jitsu competition, it really wasn’t a win unless I got a submission or I won by my own technique and that’s always my goal. But it is always revolved around a solid strategy and game plan and that’s also a great credit to the great coaches that I work with.
Fightline: On the topic of great coaches and great finishes, in your last fight against Takanori Gomi you looked great. What really impressed me and seemed to be different was your boxing. You have always had great Muay Thai but against Gomi you really established your boxing well. Who have you been working your hands with?
Florian: Peter Welch. He’s been a guy who I’ve worked with for a long time but I think the influence of Muay Thai always took over. There were kind of competing philosophies as far as my standup game. I never really was able to commit 100% to my boxing. There was always a competing philosophy with Muay Thai and what Firas [Zahabi] did was really say, ‘You know what? There is a happy medium that can be approached and be reached here. You’re boxing technique should come first. You need to switch your style to more of a boxing style.’ And he basically spoke about that and incorporated ways to basically get the best of both worlds; keep my Muay Thai but also really integrate more of a boxing based approach instead of more of a Muay Thai based approach and it’s helped me tremendously. It just gave me that much more confidence in what I was learning with my boxing so because of that my boxing was able to take off. I think we saw seed planted with the Clay Guida fight, and I think we saw more of it in other fights in the past when I did work mostly with my boxing coach. My fight against Joe Stevenson, my fight against Roger Huerta, I trained a lot more boxing than I did with my Muay Thai and those were always very good performances and I think in these last couple fights we’ve been able to see that again. But, you know, it’s been more of an organized plan. Firas has organized a very specific game plan and as far as the training of the techniques and being able to blend my striking style to something that really works for me and for MMA.
Fightline: Departing from that a little bit, as I mentioned, you are an analyst for MMA Live. I’m wondering if you could apply those analytical skills and break down who you think are the top 3 or so pound for pound best MMA fighters?
Florian: In my opinion, the top three fighters pound for pound, I’ll say Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre and Jose Aldo.
Fightline: Another fighter that is often included on that list is BJ Penn. Who are you pulling for in the Penn-Edgar rematch? Would you like BJ to win so that you could challenge him for the title again and get the chance to avenge that loss or are you more interested in getting the belt regardless of who is champion?
Florian: You know, I don’t pull for anyone in fights, especially with guys I’m gonna face. Would it be more interesting for me to face a guy like BJ Penn, a guy who beat me before? Sure. We all want our rematches, we all want the ability to erase a loss but for me it is about going out there and being a champion and whoever I need to face is what I’m gonna do. Either way, whoever wins, and if the UFC gives me that fight, then I’ll take it and do my best to become the champion.
Fightline: Absolutely. You do seem to be on the way back to a title shot but before you get there you have Gray Maynard standing in your way. What do you think are the biggest challenges he poses to you?
Florian: Gray Maynard is really tough everywhere, man. I think his submission defense has improved significantly, I think he’s very well trained in boxing and of course we all know about his wrestling. He’s one of the biggest 155ers out there, he definitely has power and he’s got a good amount of speed. I think that his wrestling is probably what poses the biggest problem for me. From a stylistic standpoint and from what people know about the ways to try and beat me in the past, put me on back or whatever but I think I’ve made major improvements on that side as well. I think we’re gonna have a great fight. Wherever this fight goes I think we’ll both be definitely challenged. I’m looking forward to seeing how the fight unfolds myself.
Fightline: Besides your upcoming fight, what other impending fights are you looking forward to watching?
Florian: As far as the UFC 118 card or…?
Fightline: Any upcoming fights, it doesn’t even have to be in the UFC, just fights coming up in the next couple of months or so.
Florian: I think the fight that’s really exciting me and a bunch of other people is the Brock Lesnar-Shane Carwin fight. And, of course, this weekend, UFC 114 with Rashad Evans against ‘Rampage.’ That fight has been brewing for so long now, there’s been so much trash talk and I think they’re both phenomenal fighters so I’m really looking forward to that fight, that’s gonna be a great fight. And the Frankie Edgar-BJ Penn [fight], both for personal reasons but because both those guys are just so good. I think that’s gonna be a great fight and it’s gonna be a real interesting one. I always love seeing the little guys fight. Those are the ones that really stick out in my mind right now.
Fightline: For sure. So, this is going to be a hypothetical question. Say that you could compete successfully at any weight; who are the fighters out there that you would most like to test yourself against? That most intrigue you?
Florian: At any weight…I guess there’s Fedor Emelianenko. Fedor Emelianenko, let’s see…Well, I think just Fedor is one of the guys that stands out the most. I love Fedor and what he can do out there. I think it would be a real honor to fight a guy like Fedor Emelianenko, if I was his weight and everything. All those things, that’d be pretty damn cool.
Well, before we end this, are there any sponsors you would like to give a shout out to?
Florian: Yeah, you know, I definitely want to thank FLO TV, TapouT, MuschlePharm, Florian Martial Arts Center, Tristar Gym, Peter Welch’s boxing.
We just recently finished a contest where we gave away a FLO TV and we did that through my Twitter. We’re going to be giving away a bunch of things regarding FLO TV. We’re not gonna give away a FLO TV all the time, but someone just won it down in Texas and it’s great to be on board with a major sponsor like that and to have them choose me as a spokesperson. It’s great for the sport, it’s great for me obviously, but it’s great for the sport because they’re getting behind some of the fighters and hopefully they’ll continue to do that and hopefully it will bring on more sponsors for other fighters as well.
Fightline: Good luck this weekend, Kenny. I know that you and the MMA Live crew are going to have some special coverage of UFC 114 this weekend, will that be airing on ESPN 2 as well?
Florian: It will and just another note is that the whole ESPN 2 thing is not a done deal. If people can continue to support the show and all that stuff, it’s gonna help tremendously because it isn’t a done deal, it’s not something that’s gonna stay there forever. So, we still need the continued support from the fans for it to stay that way.
Fightline: Well good luck with that Kenny, we all love to see MMA going more mainstream and hopefully you guys will stay on the bigger networks. And good luck against Gray as well. Thank you for taking the time today and I hope things continue to go well for you.
Florian: Appreciate it man, take care.
You can catch Kenny in action against Gray Maynard on August 28 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. He will be working with the ESPN MMA Live crew this weekend to analyze UFC 114 so check them out on ESPN 2 or on ESPN.com.