Top UFC lightweight fighter Kenny Florian was on his way to a third shot at the UFC lightweight title before being derailed by Gray Maynard late last August at UFC 118. Florian was out-wrestled by Maynard over three rounds and took home a unanimous decision loss for his efforts. He has been sent back to the drawing board but is taking the opportunity to improve his game to prevent future losses of the same kind. Florian recently appeared on the Sherdog Radio Network’s It’s Time! show with UFC ring announcer Bruce Buffer and said that he is bringing in an accomplished wrestling coach to his camp in order to shore up the weaknesses in his wrestling game.
“It looks like my training team wants me to fight in another five months,” Florian told Buffer. “I’m more motivated than ever. I’m pissed, to be honest. I want to crush my training. That’s what I’m focused on right now. I just hired the assistant wrestling coach at Boston University (Sean Gray) to be my wrestling coach here in Boston and I have other plans for a lot of other things as far as training goes.”
Florian has challenged for the lightweight title twice, against Sean Sherk and BJ Penn, and came up short both times. He bounced back from the loss to Penn and put himself back into title contention by scoring stoppage wins over Clay Guida and Takanori Gomi; he is now looking to do the same after being derailed from his third title shot by Maynard and sees his most recent loss as an experience that will allow him to grow and mature as a fighter.
“Losses are blessings in disguise,” said Florian. “I’ve never been more motivated in my life. I kind of feel like this was one of the most frustrating losses that I’ve ever had and it was a fight I definitely learned a lot from. I’m very motivated and I had to come back to training quickly. I’ve already started training and did a hard conditioning session (Tuesday). I’m just motivated to work very hard and get right back into it.”
Florian was roundly stifled by Maynard en route to the unanimous decision loss but holds no ill will towards “The Bully” for implementing his usual wrestling-and-decision-centric style to obtain the win.
“I kind of figured that’s what he would do,” said “Ken-Flo” of Maynard’s takedown-heavy approach on fight night. “Gray’s stood up with people before, but I had an inkling (Maynard would go for takedowns). I knew he was going to do what he had to do to get the win, which was exactly what he should’ve done. It was a smart game plan by him. He’s the best wrestler in the lightweight division and one of the best in the UFC.”
The native Bostonian claims to be doing everything within his power to overcome his wrestling deficit and to make sure that such losses do not occur again and do not define his career.
“I need to make sure my game is capable of beating everybody in every aspect and it wasn’t,” he said. “So, I’ve been doing wrestling every single day. I’ve been watching wrestling and researching wrestling every single day.”