Hustle and 'Flo': MMAmania.com interview exclusive with Kenny 'KenFlo (TV)' Florian

Kenny-florian_medium

It can only be viewed as a positive. Being so busy and wearing so many hats that you rarely get the time to sit back and appreciate the good fortunes that life has granted you, (cue Ferris Bueller).

That's exactly where UFC lightweight top contender Kenny Florian finds himself today. Aside from being one of the world's best lightweights in the sport, which is a feat that for most people would take up a majority of their time to accomplish, Florian can also be seen on ESPN 2 and ESPN.com as the co-host alongside Jon Anik for MMA Live. 

And if that wasn't enough to make you impressed, KenFlo has added yet another feat to his already stellar resume... product spokesperson. More specifically, FLO TV spokesperson, where he joins Will.I.Am, Jim Nantz, and Landon Donavon as endorsers of the revolutionary mobile TV device.

Kenny was kind enough to take time to talk with MMAmania.com while balancing his tremendously busy schedule, courtesy of FLO TV. We touched on his newfound role as a mainstream product endorser, MMA Live and ESPN, his fight against Gray Maynard, and UFC 118 as a whole.

Have a read:

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Thanks for taking time to speak with us today Kenny. Talk about the main reason we're here, FLO TV. What exactly is it for those people who aren't yet aware of the product.

Kenny Florian: It's basically a mobile TV where you can watch all of your favorite channels wherever you go. It's great for someone like me because I'm always on the road. And it's all touch screen too, it's pretty cool.

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): You can watch the UFC on it too, correct?

Kenny Florian: Yeah, you can order the pay-per-view events right to the FLO TV. It's pretty remarkable.

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): How did you come about to be a spokesperson for FLO TV? Did they approach you, or did you and your manager approach them?

Kenny Florian: They actually approached me. You, know, it's tough to get more of the mainstream products and sponsors to come over to MMA and the UFC, so it's an honor for me to be a part of it.

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Obviously your nickname lends well to the product, but what are some other reasons you got involved with FLO TV?

Kenny Florian: Believe it or not, I'm really not sure if my name had anything to do with it. I think the people at FLO TV just knew that I could help them reach the type of people they want to market their product to, with my fighting career, my ESPN presence, etc. I guess they just thought I'd be a good spokesperson for them. Hopefully they still do. [Laughs]

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): So when can we except to see you alongside Will.I.Am and Jim Nantz in one of those commercials?

Kenny Florian: [Laughs]. I'm not sure man, I'm not sure. That would definitely be cool, wouldn't it?

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Let's talk about MMA Live for a minute. Obviously having the show on ESPN 2 is great for the growth of the sport. What do you see as the ceiling for the show? What are the goals of the show for you, Jon Anik, and the people over at ESPN?

Kenny Florian: The thing is, is that I think there's enough MMA material out there where we could do a show every day. I hope it comes to that point eventually. But for right now, we just gotta keep putting out a quality product and see where it goes form there. I know that internally they've [executives at ESPN] been very happy with the show, but what it comes down to is having the fans support. It's not a certain thing that we stay on ESPN 2. So we have to prove to the people at ESPN that this is indeed a legitimate sport and that our show is something that fans want to see.

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Back to how you became involved in such a product. Were you handpicked to co-host the show from the beginning? How did that process unfold?

Kenny Florian: They actually contacted me and brought me out to Bristol, Connecticut for an interview and told me about the show and what it would entail. And to be honest, I was a little disappointed in the beginning when they told me that part of the job would involve me having to criticize fighters, as well as all the travel that's necessary. Being an active fighter, those were tough stipulations to accept. But I've absolutely grown to really like what I do now. It was one of those opportunities that I knew I couldn't pass up. I just couldn't turn it down.

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Alright, let's get to your primary occupation, fighting. Talk about your transition from training with Mark DellaGrotte for so many years to now training with Firas Zahabi and the Tristar team. You've looked great in your last couple bouts, but how exactly have you benefited from the move?

Kenny Florian: I think it has just given me a different style and a different approach. And I think it has inspired a lot of other coaches and trainers to continue to develop with the sport to meet the needs of fighters who seek top-level training. The quality of training partners I have now is just amazing. I train with some of the best fighters in the sport regularly. I've stepped up my game in all aspects. And now, I just feel much more confident to compete against the elite guys in the sport.

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Before we get to your fight with Gray Maynard and the UFC 118 card as a whole, let me get your thoughts on Diego Sanchez's return to the welterweight division. You guys shared some back and forth talk for a while there. Are you upset that you won't have the opportunity to settle the score with him?

Kenny Florian: No, you know, I really don't go chasing fights. Not one fight is going to define me. I just want to fight the best guys. And frankly, I think even at 155 there's better fighters out there than Diego. I think Takanori Gomi is better, and I think Gray Maynard is much better. If he comes back down to lightweight, then fine. But if not, it's no big deal.

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Alright, to UFC 118. That's a big night for the UFC lightweight divison. Break down for me if you would the rematch between Frankie Edgar and B.J. Penn. How do you see it playing out?

Kenny Florian: It's gonna be interesting. They're both gonna have to make some adjustments. Frankie came in with the perfect game plan to beat B.J. with the skill set that he has. But now it's gonna be even more difficult to replicate that. I think B.J. will come in with the advantage now knowing what Frankie is all about. And, really, their first fight was super close, it could have gone either way. I think the advantage is definitely with B.J. But if Frankie can go in there and get it done again, there's no doubt about it, he's the best lightweight on the planet.

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Has the UFC told you that the winner of your fight with Gray will get the next title shot?

Kenny Florian: No, I haven't heard anything about that from the UFC. It's kinda in the back of my mind, but what I'm really thinking about is just beating Gray. We've heard before where guys are said to have the next title shot, but then something happens and things change. So I'm just completely focused on beating Gray Maynard.

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Ok, on to Mr. Maynard. You've recently said that he is a better version of Sean Sherk. Obviously you lost to Sherk, but that was years ago and you're a completely different fighter now. Do you feel like you're better suited now to deal with Maynard's size and wrestling?

Kenny Florian: Absolutely. I'm much more capable to fight a wrestler the caliber and the size of Gray Maynard. I train with a lot of great wrestlers now. Back then [prior to his fight against Sherk at UFC 64], I didn't train much wrestling at all. The last couple fights I've really focused on developing my wrestling. Now, having the access to train with the guys at the Montreal Wrestling Club and to train with guys like Georges St. Pierre, Gray is going to quickly find out that I'm not the same guy I was back then. I'll tell you this, if he does get me down, he's gonna have to work his ass off to get it. That's for sure.

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): This of course is just a three round fight. Will you feel a sense of urgency to outstrike Gray early and take the fight to him for fear that he could secure a couple takedowns, maintain position, and win on points?

Kenny Florian: Yeah, I mean that's kinda the way I think he's gonna have to fight. And this is no offense to Gray, but he's gonna have to play his typical, boring, Gray Maynard fight. You know, take the guy down and just stay there. Just lay and pray. I think that is his only hope to win the fight. He's good everywhere, but I think that in order to win the fight, he knows that's what he's gonna have to do. But however he goes about fighting me, it's not gonna be easy.

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Without going into to much detail about your strategy for the fight, what will you be looking to accomplish? Obviously aside from winning, are there certain things you'll be looking to get done against Gray?

Kenny Florian: I don't really go into a fight with a certain game plan because I think you just set yourself up for failure that way. I really just focus on stopping what he wants to do, I try to execute what I want to do based off that. And I think going in there and having fun is critical. If I go in there and have fun, a great performance will come with it.

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): How do you feel about fighting in your hometown of Boston? You fought pretty close to Boston back at UFC 101 in Philadelphia, but UFC 118 is sure to be a different animal.

Kenny Florian: I'm excited more than anything else for my friends and family that will get to see me fight live. I get a lot of questions about when am I gonna fight in Boston and when is the UFC coming here. Well, it's finally here. August 28, all my friends and family will get to see me do what I do. It's gonna be a loud crowd for sure, but in the end, it's still just the same cage, and I realize that.

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): What's your opinion on the Randy Couture vs. James Toney fight? Are you for or against bringing someone into the UFC who has absolutely zero experience in the sport and in a lot of ways makes a mockery of MMA?

Kenny Florian: I think Toney needs money, honestly. He needs to make himself larger and bigger than he really is, figuratively, not literally [Laughs]. All that talking he's been doing, he's finally gonna get a chance to show people what he's all about. And I think he's really gonna struggle. The thing about MMA and combat sports, is that the truth always comes out. I think he's really gonnna have a tough time. I'd be surprised if he lasts more than three minutes against Randy.

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Well, you just alluded to how you think the fight will play out and even Dana White has recently said he expects Toney to lose. What percent of a chance do you give Toney in stopping Couture's takedowns and avoiding a vicious beating? More than 10 percent?

Kenny Florian: I'd say it's definitely less than 10 percent. But let's be honest, we have to talk about Toney's punching ability with those four-ounce gloves. If you get caught with one of his shots, you'll be asleep with broken bones in your face, no doubt about it. Toney can crack. He's a high-level boxer, which is something that we really haven't seen yet in MMA, that's dangerous. But for him in this sport, your stand up is only as good as your ability to stay on your feet. And knowing that, I think he'll be gun-shy with his hands trying to avoid the takedown, and that's exactly what will happen, he'll get taken down. I'd say that if he doesn't land one of his punches on Randy in the first 10-15 seconds, he's gonna be in serious trouble.

James Kimball (MMAmania.com): Ok, Kenny, thanks so much for your time. Go ahead and plug away. Where can people go to find more information on FLO TV and to pick one up? And how can fans get in touch with you?

Kenny Florian: People can go to www.flotv.com. You can go to my website as well, www.kennyflorian.com. You can pick up a FLO TV at most every electronic store like Best Buy. Fans of course can get in touch with me on Twitter at Kenny_Florian. Thank you for your time and thanks to all the fans for their support.

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