Big fight experience seems to make all the difference in the world when it comes to competing for a title in the UFC. When Kenny Florian steps into his fight against B.J. Penn on Aug. 8, he will draw upon his last chance to compete for the lightweight title to help him prepare, while having the knowledge that he can go five rounds with the very best in the world.
Talking to MMAWeekly Radio, Florian said that despite losing to Sean Sherk in 2006 during his first opportunity to wrestle the 155-pound title away from the champion, he knows that fight was what brought him to this point.
“That fight, it helped me for the last six fights, tremendously,” he said. “But I guess if there’s one thing for this specific fight that’s going to help me, it’s knowing I can go five (five-minute rounds).”
In the fight with Sherk, Florian battled one of the toughest cardio machines in the entire sport of mixed martial arts, and that experience will only help him as he heads into camp for his second shot at the lightweight gold.
“I did five rounds with Sean Sherk at a pretty good pace and I wasn’t doing any strength and conditioning back then. I really felt like I could have done another three hard ones if I needed to,” commented Florian. “Now I feel like I just got a new engine and a new gas tank.”
Following the fight against Sherk, he ramped up his training, added a strength and conditioning coach, a new nutrition plan, and the results have been astounding. Florian has won his last six fights in a row, with five finishes coming by way of submission or TKO.
“I feel like I can do five ten-times harder rounds and a lot more output, a lot stronger, a lot smarter, a lot more experience, and a completely different fighter skill wise too,” Florian stated.
At the end of the day, he understands that the loss to Sherk was a learning experience, and he knows what it did for his future in the UFC’s lightweight division.
“That was just a tremendous fight for me for my career for me to take it to the next level,” he said in closing.
The next level will take Florian to Philadelphia on Aug. 8 to challenge UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn in the main event of UFC 101.