One of the most humble and respected mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters in the sport today, Kenny Florian, decided to call it quits last week as a recurring back injury prevented him from competing in the sport he loves.
One of the original members of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), Florian never really imagined he could make a living out of fighting, even while competing on the reality show, but says that after his loss to Diego Sanchez on the TUF 1 Finale way back in 2005, he knew he didn't want to do anything else in life.
Seven years, three title shots and four weight classes later, "Ken-Flo" now finds himself seeing the fight game from the other side as he serves as UFC commentator alongside Jon Anik for UFC on FUEL and FX shows while also serving as co-host of "UFC Tonight."
With plenty of experience under his belt and a natural talent for speaking on camera, Florian has managed to parlay his fight career into a very successful broadcasting future, but says that his decision to leave the fight game was not easy.
Check out what Florian had to say regarding his difficult decision to walk away and whether or not he thinks he deserves to be inducted into the UFC's Hall of Fame on The MMA Hour.
"You know, the time was right. It's something I have been thinking about since I've been dealing with this injury. Its probably a month or two months after the injury. I injured it back in November and it was something that I just started thinking about a couple of months after. Will I be able to come back? The doctors were telling me this was something I was going to have to deal with for a while. I was hoping to be able to get back to training at some point with some sort of regular training schedule and injured it again a few weeks ago and you know it was just kind of a reminder that I definitely have to take it easy for a while and you know, with everything else going on and all the other stuff, now was the time. I was getting a lot of inquiries from fans and people about coming back, so I think it was time to put a little bit of closure to it and finalize those things."
So what exactly is the injury that forced the difficult decision to retire?
"Herniated disk in my lower lumbar. I have had injuries before, I had to drop out of the Sam Stout fight because of it. This was different though, this was on a different side and I was getting sciatica, I was getting numbness and weakness in my right leg and a little bit in my left, so that was a little scary. I was riding the Airdyne a lot so I thought it was numb from sitting on the bicycle seat from working out. Not having the feeling in my leg and having the numbness was a little scary so I knew I needed to take it easy and knew it was more serious than what I have had in the past. Man it was brutal (deciding to retire), it was extremely difficult. You go through a long period of time just really trying to deal with the injury and then trying to find some other identity outside of training everyday and preparing for a fight. There is something beautiful about just having the schedule laid out for you and knowing you have a fight coming up and that you working towards getting better as a fighter. There were days where I literally did not know whether it was Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday but I would know what I was supposed to be doing that day for my mixed martial arts schedule. You just miss it so much, not being able to train three times a day. Anytime you dedicate your life to something like that, that becomes you, that becomes your identity and looking for something, there is a period where you feel lost., trying to move forward to something else."
Florian gave his thoughts on whether or not he deserves to inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame:
"Oh I don't know. I think if I had won a title then for sure I would be. But, I don't know, that's really not for me to decide. I don't know, that would be great obviously, but beside the title and the Hall of Fame and all that stuff, just being able to compete in the UFC has given me so much. That's priceless for sure."
Coming up short against Sean Sherk, B.J. Penn and Jose Aldo in his three attempts to capture UFC gold may hinder his chance to get into the Hall of Fame in many critics' eyes, but few fail to comprehend the fact that Florian had to put in stellar work to get to that point.
Regardless if the Bostonian gets inducted into the fraternity that includes Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, and Randy Couture, amongst others, Florian will be remembered as one of the most entertaining fighters in the sport with his knack for ending fights, finishing 10 of his 12 victories in the UFC.
For all you "Ken-Flo" fans out there, turn that frown upside down as not all is bad with news of his retirement. You will still be able to get your Florian fix as he will continue with his broadcasting duties with the UFC for years to come.
Have at it Maniacs, what is your most memorable moment in Florian's almost decade long career and do you think he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame?