Former UFC Lightweight and Featherweight title challenger Kenny “Ken-Flo” Florian joined BJPENN.COM Radio this past Wednesday, April 17 to discuss a number of topics, including his thoughts on the upcoming UFC on FOX 7 card this Saturday.
One topic that was unavoidable was the speculation of a possible return to the Octagon for the Massachusetts native. At age 36, Florian’s career came to a halt following a loss to UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo on October 8, 2011 at UFC 136 in Houston, TX. The following month, Florian began to experience back problems and following advice from physicians, announced his retirement from the sport of mixed martial arts.
Just recently, however, the “bug” seems to have bitten Florian once more.
“Being honest, just the last few weeks I don’t know what it is, has just been-I feel people knocking on the door. For whatever reason, I feel like it’s calling me even more” Florian began. “Physically I just, I haven’t been able to do it, I haven’t tested out my body in a little while; it was several months back when I was trying to do that with little success. But yeah man, I miss it very much, you know; I always find myself shadowboxing in odd places and training when I can of course. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thinking about fighting, training, things that I would train today and that I would change today in my training and you know, training other guys- whatever it is. I’m just lucky that I still have a chance to be a part of the sport, and still get to be an MMA nerd; it’s fun.”
The opportunities afforded to Florian to “still be an MMA nerd” come in the form of an analyst job with the UFC. Many fans have seen Florian on current UFC programming via Fuel TV and FOX, and although he seems content with having the “pound for pound best hair on TV”, Florian admitted that retirement was very frustrating since his defensive oriented style afforded him longevity in the sport as an aging fighter.
“I started MMA at 28 years old, which is very, very late to start anything and I knew that, like everybody else out there, time was going to be my biggest opponent and I really had to get to work a lot more in that span of time and it was tough man; when I hurt my back after the Aldo fight, it was rough man. Going into depression, not being able to train, it was miserable and it’s tough. It’s tough kind of not going out on your terms; in some ways I did, some ways I didn’t. I’m lucky that I had the opportunities that I’ve had to go into broadcasting and commentary and stuff like that. It was very frustrating, and to this day I think it’s still something I struggle with a little bit, but we’ll see. I train when I can and that satisfies some of the urges that I have as far as that goes, and at least I’m still able to participate in MMA in some capacity.”
Since traveling to California for work with the UFC, Florian has trained with a slew of different gyms and friends ranging from Gracie Barra, Glendale Fight Club and Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu. In just being able to train and not worry about preparing for an actual fight, Florian says he’s now able to look at the sport from a different perspective, noting that just “watching the battle” and not being physically in it has made him a better martial artist.
Despite his easy-going demeanor, there was still one burning question to be answered: Will we ever see him in the Octagon again?
“It’s possible, but you know, the door’s pretty much shut at this point. I think physically if I’m not able to do what I was before, then I don’t think the fans deserve to see a Kenny Florian that’s not going to give 100%. And myself, I always said if I’m not able to physically do this or enjoy it, I’m going to stop and that’s that. But we’ll see, we’ll see; I’m training when I can, when my body allows and having fun doing that for now, and that’s kind of where I’m at right now. If I can get 100% healthy, you’d have to ask me again.”
To hear to the full-length interview with Kenny Florian, listen to the player below or visit the BJPENN.COM Radio channel and listen on demand.Kenny Florian, mma, MMA NEWS, ufc, ufc news