by Brian Lopez-Benchimol – MMAWeekly.com
Former UFC lightweight title challenger and perennial contender Kenny Florian is once again on the comeback trail.
Following two unsuccessful attempts in claiming lightweight supremacy, most recently at UFC 101 this past August opposite current champion B.J. Penn, a permanent change was imminent for the native of Boston in order to expand his already impressive skill set.
Though severing ties from Team Sityotdong’s Mark Dellagrote was surely an uncomfortably new experience for Florian, it’s something he suggests was a necessity to get where he feels now is the best place to be, under the tutelage of a man that Florian describes is ahead of his time in trainer Firas Zahabi, the man behind UFC veteran David Loiseau and current welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre.
“It was very quickly that I realized that this is a guy (Firas) that’s doing things that are on a completely different level and just the way that he thinks, the techniques that he does, the drills – just how much thought and effort that he puts into coaching, watching video – the guy is a freak,” stated Florian while a guest on the MMAWeekly Radio Show.
“I made a lot of improvements after the (Sean) Sherk fight, but I feel that these changes will be greater than what I showed after the Sherk fight.”
Preparing for his next fight, a step back into title contention, Florian knew that he would need a sparring partner that could emulate his opponent, Clay Guida, in every way possible, right down to his long mane.
“He has long hair, his hair goes past his ears, and I’m like, ‘I’m taking him, that’s it,’” joked Florian in regards to obtaining the services of WEC interim lightweight champion Ben Henderson in preparations for his UFC 107 co-main event tilt.
“It’s funny. I got word that I was fighting Clay and (the WEC) had this main event ‘Cerrone vs. Henderson,’ saw the fight… (Henderson’s) so tenacious, doesn’t give up, he takes a beating, he keeps coming, he’s a good wrestler, tough-tough kid with good skills all the way around and he’s got phenomenal cardio. I was like, ‘man, we should get a hold of this guy.’”
With no easy fights in the UFC, let alone the lightweight division, the 33-year-old Florian looks forward to the problems that the enigmatic Guida will present and it’s the challenge that has reinvigorated Florian for a third run at the 155-pound title.
“I’m not here to get any easy fights. I want a tough guy. I want a tough guy like a Clay Guida,” he told MMAWeekly.com.
“Clay’s a guy that brings it every time and I want to fight a guy like that. People say that I’ve had problems with wrestlers, so let’s do it. He’s been calling me out for a while now, so I’m excited to give him the opportunity to try and beat me.”