by Jeff Cain
August 6th, live on Spike TV, Kenny Florian takes on fellow “The Ultimate Fighter” season one participant, Alex Karalexis. Kenny appeared on MMAWeekly SoundOff Radio recently, and spoke about his loss to Diego Sanchez in the middleweight finals of the reality show, his up coming August 6th bout, and his opponent, Alex Karalexis. Sixteen fighters in sixteen days presses on with Kenny Florian.
Kenny Florian eliminate Chris Leben from last season’s “The Ultimate Fighter,” Spike TV reality show with an elbow that caused a nasty cut above Leben’s eye. In the season finale Florian was defeated by Diego Sanchez. Looking back on the bout with Sanchez, Kenny commented, “Pretty much it was just, you know, I didn’t execute my strategy. My strategy was to be aggressive from the onset, and take it to him right from the beginning, and I didn’t do that. I hesitated. I went out there. I was a little uncomfortable. Nervous obviously. I hesitated and kind of tried to wait and get comfortable, and in doing that it just made Diego that much more comfortable, and I played a defensive game, and in doing that, you know it’s just not the right mentality. It’s something that I’m not used to…I went out there and basically didn’t execute what I was supposed to do, and in doing so he took me down, got on top, and the first punch he threw he cut me right on the top of the nose, and blood just poured right into my eyes, and I was essentially blind about 15-20 seconds into the fight on the ground. It went all down hill from there.”
The game plan wasn’t the only thing that went wrong for Florian against Diego. The pressure of competing on that big of a stage was a lot for Kenny’s nerves to handle. He stated, “I think it was a combination of a bunch of things. That was my first fight obviously on TV, and it was a big deal, and just the whole thing that goes on behind the scenes the week leading up to the fight. You know from the interviews, and all the things that happen back stage, all the craziness, to them telling you hey you’re on in 20 minutes, and then no, no you’re on in five, oh no forget it you’re on in ten, and then hey go ahead and get in there. You know? It’s just, it’s hectic you know, and that’s something I’m not used to, but it’s something that you have to get used to, and you have to adapt to, and obviously I didn’t.”
Kenny continued, “And then the experience factor. I think that was what, my 6th fight? As opposed to Diego’s 20th overall, or something like that, so he made his mistakes fifteen, you know, fourteen fights ago, or whatever it is, and you know, if you’re fighting a lesser opponent it’s easier to recover. I’m here fighting obviously on one of the biggest stages, and you make a mistake in there, and you’re done. You don’t have a chance to recover many times, and one mistake and that’s it. You know? He’s had that luxury of fighting the lesser shows, and having a bunch of fights, and getting that experience where as I haven’t. I just have to learn as I go, but I relish that. I’m lucky and I’m happy that I’m in the situation, and I just need to adapt faster than everyone else. Simple as that.”
Shifting focus from his loss to Diego to his August 6th bout against Alex Karalexis, Florian said, “Alex is a friend of mine, and you know it’s too bad that we have to fight, but it has to be done. You know business is business, and I feel good going into this fight.”
Asked for his prediction, Kenny replied, “My prediction is it will probably be stopped because of punches, or the referee will step in because of a cut, or something like that. I picture myself getting on top and punching him, or submitting him. That’s what I see. I think he poses a threat with is hands on his feet a little bit, but you know I’m feeling really good with the striking lately, and made some really good gains. Like I said, even before the Diego fight, so I’m pretty comfortable trading with him on the feet, but I know the ground is where his weak point is, and that’s where I’m going to take it, and work that weakness, and take him out.”
In closing, I’ll leave you with the quote Kenny started the interview with. “I feel good. You know? I’m just grateful that I have the opportunity to redeem myself. You know? I haven’t been happy since the whole show. I haven’t been able to put on a good performance in my last two fights, the last one against Leben, and obviously the last one against Diego. I’m just looking forward to fighting again at 170, and just fighting again in general. You know?”