Kenny Florian: Gate-Keeper
Dana White on Kenny Florian; “I just think Kenny is one of those guys who chokes in big fights.” Tough but true words coming from the UFC President. KenFlo, 34, is 11-4 in his UFC career, but in the 4 biggest matches of his career he is 0-4. The most recent loss came on Saturday night to Gray Maynard in a bout that determined the #1 contender in the Lightweight division, and worst of all the fight was in front of Florian’s home town fans in Boston. Where does KenFlo go from here?
11 UFC wins is nothing to sneeze at. Take a closer look at those victories, however, and you have to ask the question, will Kenny Florian ever be the best Lightweight in the world?
After losing the Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Finale (at middleweight, 30 pounds heavier than he fights now) he lost to Diego Sanchez, who also no longer fights at 185. His next two fights were at welterweight where he defeated Alex Karalexis and Kit Cope, fighters who did not last long in the UFC.
Kenny then made the move to his natural weight class of 155, where he defeated Sam Stout (4-5 UFC), his next bout would be the biggest of his career to that point, against Sean Sherk for the vacant Lightweight Title. He lost a 5 round unanimous decision to the Muscle Shark. He worked his way back up to a title shot with 6 consecutive victories.
The wins were over Dokonjonosuke Mishima, Alvin Robinson, Din Thomas, Joe Lauzon, Roger Huerta, and Joe Stevenson. The last two names certainly don’t sound like jobbers, but the fact is Huerta left the UFC and lost to Pat Curran, and Joe Daddy is 2-2 after the Florian loss. Despite Stevenson’s recent struggles that win could be the best of KenFlo’s career.
His second shot at the Lightweight Title came against B.J. Penn where he was thoroughly dominated and eventually choked out in the 4th round. 3 UFC Title Fights (counting TUF) and 3 losses for Kenny Florian. He still vowed to come back and get another shot.
Florian defeated fan-favorite Clay Guida (7-5 UFC) by rear naked choke to get back on the winning side of things. He followed that victory up with a win over Takanori Gomi (UFC debut) also by rear naked choke. Those wins put him in place for the #1 contender bout with Gray Maynard in his home town. We all know what happened in the fight, which was not much. KenFlo looked confused and frustrated throughout the fight and could not make anything happen. Like against Sherk he was completely out wrestled.
Dana White then said what everyone was thinking with the quote above about Florian choking. KenFlo’s response? “Every fight in the UFC is big. I’ve been in several main events for the UFC, which I’ve won.” Yeah, those were Fight Nights against other guys who don’t belong in the title picture.
This is not an article to blast Kenny Florian, we all like the guy, in fact he was our very first guest on our podcast here on BostonThrowdown.com, but the truth is he has become the gate-keeper in the UFC’s Lightweight division.
If you can beat Florian (Sanchez, Sherk, Penn, Maynard) you deserve a title shot. If you can not beat Florian (Stevenson, Huerta, Guida, etc.) you do not deserve a title shot, at least until you improve. (I know Stevenson had a title fight, and how did that work out?)
Florian also made some interesting comments, as seen in the BostonHerald story, about if he wants to keep fighting. He said that he needs to make sure he doesn’t lose money and that the juice needs to be worth the squeeze. What? Sounds like someone who is 0-4 in big fights.
So what is next for Kenny Florian? Assuming that the money is order, probably an up and coming guy who may or may not be worthy of an eventual title fight. George Sotiropoulos seems to fit the mold, don’t be surprised to hear that match up, again assuming Kenny isn’t going to lose money on the fight.