Kenny Florian is a name most UFC fans recognize. From reality shows to being a mixed martial arts analyst on television, “Ken Flo” is all over the place. Heck, you can put the guy’s face on a bag of chips and, all of a sudden, Doritos sales will jump in the 18-36 male demographic.
Five years ago, people might have seen Florian walking down the street and said, “hey, there goes that Zoolander guy!” But no longer. Kenny Florian has his own fame to deal with, now.
Since placing second in the inaugural Ultimate Fighter reality show, Florian has made quite the name for himself with title fights against champions like B.J. Penn and Sean Sherk. Also, great fights against Joe Lauzon, Takanori Gomi, Clay Guida, and his recent outing against Diego Nunes – a fight that saw him competing in his fourth weight class – are all evidence of Florian’s popularity.
After one fight at featherweight, Florian is the No. 1 contender to the division’s crown and expected to face champion Jose Aldo at UFC 136 in October. Some fans may look at this and think that it’s a little premature, that he hasn’t done enough at 145 pounds to earn a crack at the belt yet.
Well, fans might think that, but Kenny Florian feels he is the best option for a title fight at 145 pounds. With his name and marketability, Florian sees himself as one who’s career resume has put him in a place to fight Aldo for featherweight gold.
When asked if he is the best option as No.1 contender, Florian told MMAWeekly Radio Weekend Edition, “I feel I am, but I don’t make the fights, the UFC does.”
Kenny further explained why he’s the best choice to fight Aldo and why Chad Mendes, along with other UFC featherweights, are not.
“When you’re talking about putting a fight together and who deserves a shot at the belt, I think it comes down to what you’ve done throughout your career, as well,” he said. “Although I’ve only had one fight at 145 (pounds), I did fight one of the top 145ers in the world. And while you can say, ‘well, Chad Mendes and some of the other guys have done more at 145 than Kenny Florian,’ at the same time, they haven’t fought the big names that I have. They haven’t fought in title fights. They haven’t had the name. Because I’ve been fighting in the UFC, I have a bigger name and at the end the day, really, it’s about putting on the most marketable fight.”
Perhaps Kenny Florian is the best fit for a weight class still trying to find it’s popularity. While people are quick to answer who the UFC heavyweight or middleweight champions are, they are slower to identify who the featherweight king is. According to Florian, he’s had to explain it to people before.
Florian feels pitting Aldo against someone else just won’t sell as much.
“People ask me, ‘who has the belt at 145.’ And when I tell them Jose Aldo, the majority of people don’t know who he is,” Florian explained. “And to put together another fight at 145 between Jose Also and someone else, not sure it’s going to sell as much if you put someone else in there.”
Regardless of people’s opinions about where Florian fits in the featherweight division, he just wants to fight the best available opponent. He’s not intentionally trying to skip over anyone in the rankings, he just wants to get in the Octagon and do his job.
If his job calls for a fight with the champ, then so be it. Just give him a name and he’ll do work.
“I just want to face the best guys and what ever the UFC decides, they decide,” he said. “I’m not trying to jump over anybody. I’m not trying to do this or that, I just want to face the best. I’m here to fight. Give me a name and I’ll fight him. Make sure he’s great, he’s a great fighter, I’ll go in there. It doesn’t matter.”