“Kenny is just one of those guys who chokes in big fights.”
That was what UFC featherweight Kenny Florian had to hear from his boss, UFC president Dana White, following his loss to Gray Maynard last August with a shot at the UFC lightweight title on the line.
Florian came up short in the No. 1 contender’s bout, which would have earned him his third shot at the 155-pound title in the UFC. The first two bouts ended with Florian losing a decision to Sean Sherk, and being submitted by B.J. Penn.
So with that dooming statement from White hanging over his head, how does Florian feel about his chances coming into his upcoming title fight with Jose Aldo at UFC 136?
“In an odd way, it’s those mistakes that I’ve made in my career both during the fight, in preparation for the fight, that has given me a different kind of calmness, a different kind of confidence that I didn’t have before,” Florian told MMAWeekly Radio.
People have continued to criticize Florian for his performances in those big fights, so it certainly serves as motivation for the 35-year-old Bostonian.
He’s also taking it as a chance to let the pressure valve off a little bit heading into this fight. Instead of expecting such big things to happen when he faces Aldo on Saturday night, Florian just wants to go in there and fight his fight and if that happens, he’s confident the results will be a victory.
“In many ways it makes me feel like I’ve got nothing to lose. A lot of people writing me off, saying I’m a choke artist, this and that, this is my third opportunity, I feel I have nothing to lose,” said Florian.
“It feels like it’s my time. You never know with fighting how things are going to turn out. I try not to worry about that, I worry about the things that I can control. That’s my training and getting better, and preparing properly.”
According to Florian, his training is better than it’s ever been before. Besides training at his own gym in Boston, Florian has spent much of his fight camp in Montreal working with coach Firas Zahabi and fighters like UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
“The team that I have around me now, the coaches, the work load that I’m able to carry now as a fighter, as an athlete, as a martial artist is unlike anything I’ve done in the past. That gives me a whole new different kind of confidence. A whole new different outlook heading into this fight,” Florian stated.
Obviously the pressure is still on because with a loss, the same old things will be said about Florian, but he’s not listening to the negative commentary. Florian is staying positive and focused on winning on Saturday night and taking home his first UFC title.
“Hopefully, third time’s the charm,” Florian said. “Third time was a charm for B.J. Penn, and some other great fighters out there.
“Hopefully, it will be the same for me.”