Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight and Featherweight title contender, Kenny Florian, has become one of the best mixed martial arts (MMA) analysts in the business since his recent retirement from the sport.
He will call the action on FOX Sports 1 in just a few hours on FOX Sports 1 for UFC Fight Night 27, which takes places this evening (Weds., Aug. 28, 2013) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind., featuring a five-round, non-title Welterweight rematch in the main event between Carlos Condit vs. Martin Kampmann.
Florian recently spoke to MMAmania.com's Michael Stets, sharing his take on the pivotal 170-pound showdown between Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann, as well as the co-featured fight of the night that pits Donald Cerrone against Rafael dos Anjos in a meaningful Lightweight scrap.
That's not all.
Michael Stets (MS): How do you feel about providing the in-fight analysis in the studio during the FOX Sports 1 (FS1) debut card with Jay Glazer and Brian Stann? Doing what other big networks do with major sports like NBA, MLB and NFL, it had to feel pretty cool doing it for UFC.
Kenny Florian (KF): It was man. I think the card was certainly deserving of it. It being a first for FOX Sports one was deserving of it. It was awesome to be a part of it. The way that Fox does thing and the way that they are promoting the sport, it's been awesome to be a part of it. Another good night for the UFC for sure.
MS: You are calling the action tonight for UFC Fight Night 27: Carlos Condit vs. Kampmann 2. How do you see this fight unfolding, stylistically?
KF: It's going to be another great one. I don't see this one going the distance to be honest. I think both of these guys are finishers, and just the way that they match up, I think both are very aggressive and they are going to go for it in this fight. They have five rounds to do it. I don't think they are going to need five rounds. It's interesting because Condit said he's really been working on his wrestling. I think that's kind of what lost him the fight versus Kampmann in the first one, so this is good, I think a lot of it is going to be on the feet. Both of these guys are going to be going at it.
MS: That's how I see it going. Condit is not afraid to trade with anybody, nor is Kampmann for that matter. Pressure though for Condit with two losses in a row, albeit most guys will get a pass losing to Georges St. Pierre, it's not like he lost to just anybody, and for Kampmann, who just got knocked into next week by Johny Hendricks. Do you think it will be added pressure for both fighters?
KF: Yeah, I mean a little bit for sure. Both guys are top guys. I think for Condit maybe there might be a little bit more sense of urgency. I know Kampmann has been mixing things up, he's gone and trained with the Blackzilians and stuff. I think he realizes this is a huge fight and he has done everything possible to prepare for this one. Going in against Condit you know you are going to have to fight every minute of every round -- the guy is a beast. There must be a lot of pressure on them. This is a big fight, big main event. I don't think a loss here for either one is going to hurt them in anyone's eyes, but they certainly want to get back on track here if they want a title shot.
MS: Kampmann had three wins in a row. He showed great resolve in the fight against Thiago Alves that he was losing. He comes back and gets the guillotine victory toward the end of the fight. Then he knocks out Jake Ellenberger with knees ... nobody saw that coming. That was a huge win for him. Then he falls back against Hendricks, so up and down for him. Overall, Condit is talked about more in regards to title contention, but should Kampmann get the victory he really jumps up to the top of the line. Do you agree?
KF: Yeah, he does. I think Condit realizes that Kampmann is a guy who has always been one of the top guys. You can argue that he went undefeated for a while, prior to his loss to Hendricks just because of the decisions he had. He had some close ones that went the other way that he felt he had won. He's right there. When you have such a crazy Welterweight division, you cannot afford to make any mistakes out there. It's one of those where you have to be consistent. You can't slip up against a guy like Condit, either. He's going to have to stay focused throughout this fight. He's going to have to stay very technically sound throughout and that means he has to come in shape. This is a huge one.
MS: Condit has an active guard and is very dangerous on the ground. GSP -- the master at stepping over and turning full guard into a half-guard almost instantaneously -- nullified it in their fight, but Condit kept working that whole fight. And he was active against Hendricks, too. He hasn't had a submission since his WEC days. Do you think that is just coincidence? Do you think Condit may be overdue for a submission?
KF: Yeah, I think you could be right there. Throughout Condit's WEC career most of his wins came by guillotine because of his long arms, he would always sit up for that guillotine/kimura combination. The level of guys at 170 pounds certainly wasn't up to par with what it is now in the UFC. It's really hard to finish or get submissions in the UFC -- the level is going to be much harder. I think that is what Condit is experiencing here and I think it's also that he loves to keep it up on the feet. He is definitely partial to keeping it on the feet and he's gotten some excellent wins in the UFC doing that. I know he definitely likes knocking out guys more than he likes submitting them.
MS: Condit is really good at putting together combinations. A lot of times we see in the sport -- as you know being an expert analyst and former fighter -- a lot of guys throw one strike, or a one-two combination. Condit likes to sit in there and throw three-strike combinations, sometimes more, double kicks, he really mixes it up well with his combinations well.
KF: He does and he needs to do that, because he is not a huge power puncher. He has gotten some knockouts in his career. He had a nasty one against Dan Hardy with his hands. Let's face it: He's not a big power puncher. He's a kind of guy who needs to put his combinations together. Much like the Diaz brothers like to do. They may not be the hardest hitters, but volume is where they get it done and where they really frustrate and confuse their opponents. That is what he needs to continue to do against Kampmann, especially from the outside.
MS: I think Condit, if he gets the rematch against GSP, he has the best chance out of the top welterweights to defeat him. Do you agree with that?
KF: He could be. He has an interesting style for GSP, as does Hendricks coming up. Condit is a guy who goes for it. You have to go for it against GSP. If you try to play it safe and try not to make any mistakes against Georges, you are going to lose. Georges is a chess player. He makes each little move, no mistakes, just kind of trucking forward, cornering you and making sure that he really just covers all his bases, makes no mistakes and finds a perfect game plan to beat you. Condit, disregards all that stuff, and just tries to go for the finish. So he has the right mentality to face GSP, there's no doubt.
MS: Rafael dos Anjos is taking on Donald Cerrone. Here is a lightweight in that shark tank of a division who has flown under the radar. He is ranked No. 10 and has four wins in a row. Three of those are by decision, but four wins in a row is still impressive. Cerrone came on strong winning his first four in the UFC before losing to Nate Diaz. Then won his next two, then lost one, won one ... so he has been up-and-down. How important is this fight for both of these fighters?
KF: Very important fight. Again, in my opinion the Lightweight division is the most difficult in the UFC. Just so many killers in that division, and we have two of them going at it with "RDA" and Cerrone. I think Cerrone is going to have the advantage if the fight stays on the feet, if he keeps Dos Anjos on the outside. Dos Anjos wants to get on the inside, needs to utilize a lot of kicks, a lot of leg kicks to try to slow Cerrone down a little bit. That will also freeze up Cerrone and limit his leg kicks. Any time you just start getting leg-kicked a lot, you are hesitant to throw some legs. "RDA" has to make sure he does that. He has the advantage in the wrestling though, that's where I think he can steal rounds. I think dos Anjos really has to use his wrestling. He out wrestled Mark Bocek, who is a very strong grappler, and that was maybe one of his most impressive wins. We have seen Cerrone get taken down in the past and I think that is what dos Anjos has to do here, mix up his game, get very diverse with his striking, mix in some takedowns, especially late in the rounds to see if he can secure those.
MS: Cerrone has shown some great grappling throughout his career also, but he always wants to stand and trade, whether he is winning or losing like in the Diaz fight. He was clearly losing, but he didn't try to get the fight to the ground. Even when he kicked Diaz's leg out and knocked him down, he waited for him to stand back up. He has the penchant to stand and trade, but he has some serious skill on the ground that we really never get to see. He never seems to play up to that strength any more.
KF: Well, you mentioned Condit and his submissions in the WEC, Cerrone was exactly the same. Cerrone showed some brilliant grappling in the WEC. We don't get a chance to see that much and I think that again, and a lot of that is he likes to keep it on the feet for better or for worse. Cerrone is an emotional fighter and that really hurts guys. Cerrone just needs to fight smarter. He has always had the tools to become one of the best in the division. To get consistency, I think he just needs to fight a little smarter and be a little bit less emotional. They say, 'fight with emotion, and die in a rage,' and that has been the kind of curse on Cerrone. If he can put it together in this one, it could be a great fight to put him back on track.
MS: Do you think if dos Anjos gets a win over Cerrone he breaks into the top five of the division?
Without a doubt. People need to take notice of dos Anjos here. He has been looking very sharp. I thought his last fight was very close. That one could've gone either way. Like you said, I think he is ready to break into the top five with a win over Cerrone.
MS: Lastly, what would a discussion be if I didn't ask you about the hair? How is the hair flowing these days, getting ready for UFC Fight Night 27?
KF: It's good. That is the only thing I can keep in any amount of shape now these days. I wish I had more time to get back and train more, but anyways, my hair benefits.
MS: Has anyone started a Twitter page yet or anything?
KF: I have to beat them to it. I've been meaning to do it. Kenny Florian's hair or something, I have to do it.