Kenny Florian has competed for a UFC title three times in his career and was defeated each time. After losing to featherweight champion Jose Aldo at UFC 136 last Saturday, many are questioning, what is next for Florian? Some have even suggested that he should consider retirement.
Florian issued a statement via his management team at Authentic Sports Management on Monday in response to questions that surround his fighting future, but gave no indication about any career decision.
“Everyone is asking what is next for me,” read the statement. “The only response I can give right now is that I’m going to take some time. I want to rest, spend some time with my family and friends, and then evaluate all of my options. I’ll speak with (UFC president Dana White), and my manager, Glenn Robinson, and we will figure out my next move. When I make that decision, my fans will be the first to know. One way or another, you haven’t seen the last of Ken-Flo!”
“That’s up to Kenny,” said White about Florian’s future following the UFC 136 post-fight press conference. “It’s one of those things he needs to sit down and really figure out on his own.
“He’s accomplished a lot in this sport; he really has.”
Florian (14-6) has come a long way since he made it to the finals of the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter as a middleweight back in 2005. After losing to Diego Sanchez in the season’s finale, Florian won two fights in the welterweight division before dropping to the 155-pound weight class. In his second bout as a lightweight, Florian was granted a title shot for the then-vacant lightweight crown against former welterweight contender and much more experienced Sean Sherk. He was defeated that night and many questioned if it was too much too soon for Florian.
He regrouped, refocused, and rose through the division over the course of the next two years, putting together a six-fight win streak and earned a second opportunity at UFC gold. This time he faced former two-division UFC champion B.J. Penn. Florian would again come up short in a title fight, losing by submission.
Having lost twice in lightweight title bouts, Florian set out to get back to contender status. In his next two outings, he decisively defeated Clay Guida and Takanori Gomi. He then faced Gray Maynard at UFC 118 in a No. 1 contenders bout. Maynard’s wrestling proved too much and Florian lost a one-sided decision.
Following the loss to Maynard, White criticized Florian, suggesting he doesn’t perform when on the biggest stage.
“I just think Kenny is one of those guys that chokes in big fights,” said White.
Florian exited the lightweight division after the Maynard loss in search of a big fight in the 145-pound weight class, perhaps to prove White wrong.
In his featherweight debut, Florian took on rising star Diego Nunes. Florian won a hard-fought unanimous decision and called for a fight with titleholder Jose Aldo.
In his second fight as a featherweight, Florian was granted the fight he requested. History was repeating itself. And much like in his fight against Sherk, Florian was defeated by Aldo in a one-sided decision.
The third time wasn’t a charm for the Bostonian. But does that mean he should retire?
Ultimately any decision falls on Florian, and either way, he’s left his mark on the sport.
Two things happened to Florian’s legacy at UFC 136. He lost for the third time with the belt on the line, but he also joined a short list of names that have competed for world titles in two different weight classes. The list includes: Randy Couture, B.J. Penn, Sean Sherk, Vitor Belfort, Dan Henderson, Urijah Faber, and Jens Pulver.
Whether Florian retires or tries to stage a run at a fourth title shot, White isn’t worried about his future.
“The thing is he’s smart, he’s talented, he’s got other options. He’s got other things going on outside of fighting, too,” said White. Florian co-hosts MMA Live on ESPN, and commentates regularly on UFC broadcasts.
“He’s a talented guy with a lot of options,” said the UFC president. “I have nothing but respect for him and Kenny Florian will be with us, no matter.”
While Florian’s statement on Monday didn’t shed light on what he intends to do in the future, he was right about not seeing the last of Florian… one way or another.