Top UFC lightweight contender Kenny Florian has challenged for the UFC lightweight title twice, losing both times to Sean Sherk and BJ Penn, respectively. He has put himself back on the title path by defeating tough lightweights Clay Guida and Takanori Gomi and now has only one fight standing between himself and a third chance to capture the title that has eluded him for his entire career, a match with powerful lightweight Gray “The Bully” Maynard. “Ken-Flo” recently spoke with Fightline.com to share his thoughts on upcoming opponent Gray Maynard and former conqueror BJ Penn.
While Florian and Maynard will soon be battling it out to determine who will be the next to challenge for the title, BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar will be fighting each other again to determine the rightful owner of that belt. The two fought a closely contested five round fight at UFC 112 in April during Penn’s tenure as champion that saw Edgar controversially granted the decision and the lightweight belt; the decision was controversial enough for an immediate rematch between the two to be organized for UFC 118 this August, the same date that Maynard and Florian will meet. When asked if he would prefer Penn to win the rematch so that he may have the chance to exact vengeance for his previous defeat, Florian said that he is ready and willing to fight either man as long as whoever it is holds the belt.
“You know, I don’t pull for anyone in fights, especially with guys I’m gonna face,” said the Bostonian. “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.”
As was previously mentioned, Florian has a roadblock in Gray Maynard that he must clear before he gets the chance to challenge for the title again. During his interview, Florian offered his thought on the Xtreme Couture trained powerhouse.
“Gray Maynard is really tough everywhere, man,” said Florian. “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 my 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.”
Florian will have his opportunity to get one step closer to the lightweight title when he takes on Maynard at UFC 118 on August 28 in Boston, Massachusetts at the TD Garden. The highly anticipated fight between former UFC Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture and world boxing champion James Toney is also expected to take place at UFC 118 as are bouts between Joe Lauzon and Terry Etim, Nate Marquardt and Rousimar Palhares, Jorge Rivera and Alessio Sakara, and more.
For the full interview with Florian, in which he also talks about who he feels is the best fighter in the world and which upcoming bouts he’s looking forward to, click here.