5/13/08 - By Jonathan Brown for SPRAWL Fight Short Company Kenny Florian has been a busy man lately. After his big win over Joe Lauzon at the last UFC Fight Night, he put away his lethal kicks and punches, and put on his commentating hat when he filled in for Joe Rogan at UFC 83. In this SPRAWL interview, Kenny talks about his fight with Joe Lauzon, his experiences in Montreal, and his thoughts on Roger Huerta. All this and much more in this SPRAWL exclusive.
JB: Congratulations on your win over Joe Lauzon.
KF: Thank you.
JB: You guys were verbally sparing in the media before the fight. Has all the bad blood been squashed between you too?
KF: Yeah on my side it has. He was doing his part to hype up the fight, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t pissing me off. After a fight, it is all buried.
JB: It looked like the high altitude was a factor in all the fights that night. When you were pounding on him at the end of the fight, did you start to get winded?
KF: I really wasn’t getting winded. I was just trying to take my time, and pick my shots…I might have been a little winded at the end of the first round, but other than that, I felt real good.
JB: Was it just that he had a good defense when you had him mounted, because it looked like it took you awhile to finish him?
KF: Yeah a little bit. I just wanted to take my time and pick my shots. You know, I started off pounding on him. He was doing a decent job blocking them, so I kind of just wanted to pick my shots…I was putting my hands around his throat, and then on his mouth, and then picked my shots, and hurt him that way. I definitely heard him grunt a few times. I just wanted to hold that position and beat him from the mount. There was no way he was going to get out. He tried everything in the book to get out, but it was basically just delaying the inevitable. It was almost two minutes of me mounting him and punching him.
JB: Given the disparity in jujitsu experience were you surprised he went for that heel hook?
KF: Not really. That didn’t surprise me; it’s something we prepared for. Obviously it was part of his game plan…It seemed like he was kind of forcing it. The set up wasn’t great; it was never tight at any point. I just relaxed. I knew I was going to get out of any submission attempt as far as legs go, because I worked so hard on leg defense. For jujitsu, I have really good training partners, so I really wasn’t concerned with anything from a technical stand point going into the fight.
JB: In the Kurt Pellegrino vs. Nate Diaz fight, I saw something I never saw before in a fight. In the second round, Kurt slammed Nate and landed in side mount, then made an effort to get into Nate’s guard, and after that he tried to pass his guard. Why would someone do that?
KF: I think it was part of his strategy to wear him down…It takes a lot of energy to defend your guard. It is not a jujitsu match. You don’t get points for getting into side mount…If your comfortable with your ground and pound, and your submission defense it doesn’t really matter if your in side mount, or back in guard. Yes, Nate Diaz has great jujitsu, but the reason Kurt got caught in that triangle was a wrestling mistake.
JB: There’s talk of you fighting Roger Huerta next. Has the UFC offered you that fight?
KF: I’ve made it clear that that’s a fight I’m definitely interested in. I definitely want to be the number 1 contender without a doubt. I consider Roger Huerta at the top of the weight class. I think a fight between us would determine that. I have a lot of respect for him as a fighter, and for what he has accomplished as a person as well. Yeah, I definitely like that fight, but there’s nothing solid yet.
JB: How do you feel you match up with him?
KF: I think he always comes in tremendous shape. He’s got good hands, he’s a brawler, and he’s just super tough. I mean, you know he’s never going to quit. He’s very good at escaping submissions, he’s a tricky fighter, he’s got good wrestling as well, and a lot of experience. He’s definitely no joke at all, and that’s the reason why he has the record that he does.
JB: You got to do the commentating for UFC 83. What was your favorite fight of the night?
KF: There was some sick fights that night. The Goulet vs. Hironaka fight was unbelievable. Goulet came back from getting knocked down, and they just stood there and brawled. Then Goulet comes back and knocks Hironaka out. The Maia vs. Herman fight was just an awesome display of jujitsu. Ed Herman actually displayed good stand up as well. Anyone that’s a fan of jujitsu would of definitely loved that fight.
JB: Commentating seemed to come pretty natural to you. Is this something you would like to do after your fighting career is over?
KF: Oh no doubt about it. You know I can’t fight forever. Who knows where life is going to take me, but you definitely want something to fall back on. This is something I majored in at Boston College, so I would definitely like to pursue that in the future.
JB: This was the first UFC in Canada. Did you notice a difference between the atmospheres from this UFC and the ones in the States?
KF: It was unbelievable. This sport just keeps growing and growing. It was to the point where you couldn’t really walk anywhere without getting mobbed. These fans were just extremely crazy and passionate about the sport. They have been waiting for the UFC to come here for a long time. I have never heard a crowd that loud. It was really deafening. You couldn’t here yourself think…Unbelievable energy, unbelievable atmosphere, and no doubt about it; this is GSP’s capitol from here on out. He will probably be fighting there for every fight! (laughs)
JB: What did you think of Bisbing’s debut at 185?
KF: I think he did great. He looked really fast and fluid in there. He was definitely sharper with his striking. I think he’s going to be a tough guy to beat. He definitely has the potential to be a top contender at 185.
JB: GSP got some criticism for not standing with Matt more. Do you feel it was unwarranted criticism?
KF: Oh yeah sure. At the end of the day you got to do what’s going to win you the fight. In my opinion, that was exactly what GSP should of done. Any time you stand up and trade with a guy that has heavy hands like Matt Serra you’re throwing the dice. I think GSP kind of alluded to before the fight that he was going to stand up and trade with him and that is why some people are disappointed. That very well could have been part of his camp’s strategy. You got to give GSP’s camp credit for coming up with a strategy that I think really confused Matt Serra. GSP took him down and traded with him a little bit, and then Matt thought he was going to trade with him again, but then GSP would take him down. He worked some great guard passing. It was just another great performance by GSP.
JB: Tim Sylvia just left the UFC to fight Fedor. Who do you like in that fight?
KF: That’s a very interesting fight. I’m very curious to see how Fedor is going to do against a quality opponent, because he hasn’t fought a tough opponent in a long time. Probably not since Mirko Cro Cop. I think Tim Sylvia poses a lot of problems, because you don’t realize how unorthodox he is, and how difficult it is to fight a fighter that tall. Well, then everyone points to fact that Fedor fought Hong Man Choi…but Tim Sylvia has much better grappling skills then Hon Man Choi. He has a lot more experience…I think Tim Sylvia has a good chance of winning this fight. I wouldn’t be surprised if he won the fight on his feet. I think Fedor is one of the top heavyweights, but I’m not ready to say he’s the best. If he wins this fight, it will bring him another step closer to that. Fedor is an unbelievable fighter, and this will be his biggest test in a long time.
JB: Is there anything you would like to say in closing?
KF: I want to thank SPRAWL for their continued support over the years. I want to thank my fans for their continued support, and I hope to fight for them again soon.