by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
Kenny Florian is ready.
“I’m really excited. I’m training hard; I never took a break since my last fight. I’m ready to fight; I’m hungry and I’m agitated. I don’t know what happened after the Sherk fight, but I’m just angry before a fight; I don’t know what it is [laughs]. I’m looking forward to this fight and I want to battle out there.”
Tonight at UFC 73, Florian is scheduled to face newcomer Alvin Robinson. A veteran of six fights in the Octagon, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt is eager to get back into the mix of things. “I can’t wait to compete. I’m looking forward to stepping into the Octagon and competing against another good opponent and showing the skills that I have. The hard part is over now and it’s [about] just keeping the weight,” said the 31-year old fighter. “I’m assuming that Alvin is going to be 100% ready and focused enough for this fight. That’s the kind of fighter I’m prepared to face. I’m sure he’s feeling that the pressure is on me. I’m the veteran fighter, he’s the newcomer. We’ll see what happens.”
Encouraged by UFC President Dana White to try out for the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter, Kenny Florian made the best of an opportunity and was accepted to be a contestant on the show. Although he came up short against Diego Sanchez in the finale, the exposure and popularity of The Ultimate Fighter catapulted Florian’s career into the spotlight.
Rebounding from his loss to Sanchez, Florian put together a string of three straight victories, earning wins over Alex Karalexis, Kit Cope, and Sam Stout. At UFC 64, Kenny was presented with the chance to win UFC gold as he faced veteran Sean Sherk for the vacant lightweight title. After five tough rounds, Florian would go on to lose via a unanimous decision and fall short of his dream.
Returning to the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 9, Florian defeated Pride and Shooto veteran Dokonjonosuke Mishima. Known for his grappling prowess, Kenny impressed fans and critics as he dominated Mishima standing and displayed improved Muay Thai skills. “That’s what mixed martial arts is all about; being good at everything. I’m trying to improve everything,” said the Boston College graduate. “Getting my wrestling going now and strength conditioning; I want to do it all. I want to leave my future opponents completely confused.”
A 4th degree brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Royce Gracie affiliate John Crouch, Alvin Robinson is one of the most promising 155-pound fighters today. The Ring of Fire Lightweight Champion had a good year in 2006, winning three of four fights.
Aggressive on the ground, Robinson shoots in on his opponents and actively works for submissions. Of his eight victories, all have come by way of submission. In addition to his ground prowess, Robinson isn’t afraid to exchange with his opponents and throw an occasional superman punch. Since turning pro in 2005, Alvin has averaged four fights in a year and continues to be one of the busiest and successful lightweights today.
“From what I’ve seen, he seems to be a very explosive fighter,” commented Florian about his opponent. “[He has a] solid wrestling background with some very good Jiu-Jitsu skills. He’s very inclined to use his strikes to setup takedowns and work the ground and pound until he gets a choke. He’s very good with the rear naked choke, a move that I like to do.
“He seems like a very dangerous opponent. He has the ability to submit anybody so I’m definitely going to be aware of that and be ready,” added the former Ultimate Fighter contestant. “But at the same time, I’m not sure if he’s been challenged as much as he’d like. I’m going to give him his first real fight. We’re going to find out if Alvin Robinson is a fighter or not [tonight]. My job is to go in there and bring it to him and see what he has. I think he’s a very skilled fighter and I’m not looking past him at all. I’ve trained very hard for this fight and I’ve taken it very seriously and I hope he has too.”
Losing to Sean Sherk for the vacant lightweight belt was disappointing for Kenny. In the UFC’s busiest and deepest weight class, Florian looks to move back up the ladder towards title contention.
“I think this fight is going to be dictated by who can dominate the wrestling. I think I’ve made a lot of good strides in that area and I’m going to take the fight to wherever I want to take it. I believe it’s going to stay on the feet for the majority of the fight where I hope to knock him out.”