Kenny Florian has heard all the comments from the peanut gallery since he made the decision to try his hand at featherweight.
Some fighters regard the move as a good career choice, while others have slammed almost anyone for cutting down a weight class as a desperate move for career rejuvenation.
Florian doesn’t really see it as either.
The Boston area fighter isn’t dropping down to 145 pounds because he couldn’t compete with the big boys at lightweight any longer. That’s the furthest thing from his mind.
“As far as I’m concerned, I know I’ve done well at 55 and I know I can be a champion at 155,” Florian told MMAWeekly Radio.
What got Florian thinking about going to featherweight in the first place was getting offered a fight with 145-pound champ Jose Aldo in a lightweight bout. Aldo eventually opted to stay at 145 pounds and forgo moving to lightweight, but the fight always stuck in Florian’s mind.
“It all started when I was offered a fight with Jose Aldo at 155 pounds, and when that opportunity arose, I just started thinking Jose won’t go up to 155, could I be able to make it at 145?” Florian stated. “Anyone can make 45, but the question of getting there and being able to perform well (was there) and (my coaches) felt that I would be able to do that.
“It was also a factor at 55. A lot of the guys that I wanted to fight, didn’t want to fight, and didn’t want to take the fight. I’m at the point in my career where I wanted to face the best, and when that wasn’t happening, I said let’s try 45.”
With the featherweight division growing with new talent and challenges ahead from fighters like Aldo and top contender Chad Mendes, Florian is excited for the prospects of facing the best of the best at 145 pounds.
It’s just the challenge he was looking for.
“For me, going down to 145, I see it as a new challenge in my career,” said Florian. “I see it as an opportunity to face one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world in Jose Aldo, hopefully, down the line. That’s really what I see it as. Going down to 45 as a new challenge, and I expect to be at 155 (again) soon.”
Florian is hopeful to defeat Diego Nunes at UFC 131 in June, and then be offered a fight with Jose Aldo later this year.
Either way, Florian’s time at lightweight is far from finished.
“No, not at all,” Florian answered when asked if he was done at 155 pounds.
For now, however, Florian will continue his strict diet and training regimen to make the cut to 145 pounds for the first time when he heads to Vancouver to be a part of the UFC 131 fight card.