It's been quite a long time since we've seen Kenny Florian.
But that doesn't mean that the contending Ultimate Fighter season one veteran hasn't been keeping busy.
In the nearly 10 months since his last fight, "Ken-Flo" has been criticized by Dana White for choking in big fights, had a lightweight fight with featherweight champ Jose Aldo fizzle, injured his knee while preparing to fight prospect Evan Dunham and finally dropped down to featherweight to contend for the title there.
The Boston native recently spoke with Pro MMA Radio about making the cut to 145, how he views the featherweight division and his upcoming opponent this Saturday.
See Florian make his case for a title shot ahead of Chad Mendes after the jump.
Pro MMA Radio: Let's talk about the drop to 145, Kenny. How did this all come about for you?
Kenny Florian: It was something I was thinking about while I was injured, while I was laying there on the couch for a couple months. It was an idea that was thrown out there. It really came about when I had a proposed fight with Jose Aldo at 155 pounds and Aldo didn't come up to 155, I started thinking, "Could I make it at '45?" and I started talking with my coaches and I spoke with a nutritionist and they all said it was possible. That's how it all started.
Pro MMA Radio: So Kenny, what's the goal? Are you looking to go down to 145 and make that a home? I've seen stuff where you said that you're not done at 155. In a perfect world, how does this play out in the next year or two for you?
Kenny Florian: I definitely am gonna be back at 155. I don't know when. The plan is to get in there and hopefully become a champion at that weight class. I don't know how many fights I'll have at 145. I don't think it'll be a long spell at 145. That's just how I feel right now but who knows? For sure I feel like I have unfinished business at 155 and I know I can compete with the best guys at '55 and for my own head, I need to get back at 155 and do what I know I'm capable of.
Pro MMA Radio: So weight-wise, and I'm sure some of that will be influenced by how you feel at 145. Tell me where you're at now and where are you tracking in comparison to when you fight at 155.
Kenny Florian: Right now the weight is pretty good. I'm right around 163 and the weight is feeling good. I'm still eating a lot, obviously not as much as I was at 155 but I had to start a lot earlier as well because I was at my biggest going into this training camp because of the long lay-off, not doing anything for two months. You're gonna gain a lot of weight. That's been the hardest part and I had to be very strict with my diet a lot earlier than normal. That's pretty much it. The workouts have still been phenomenal. I'm much stronger now than I was at 155 and I've had a chance to really work my strength. I feel that I'm a much better fighter than I was in my last fight. That's always my goal, to be a better fighter and I think I've done that throughout my career, win or lose.
Pro MMA Radio: Have you done a test-cut at all, do you intend on doing one or are you just going to go straight in?
Kenny Florian: No test cut. It's a matter of mathematics when you look at where your body fat is, your muscle ratio, all of that. I know it's not only possible but I can go in there and perform at a high level on fight night and that's the most important thing. Doing the weight cut can dramatically take it's toll on a fighter if you have a steep cut like that so really what's amazing was getting my weight under control, my body fat and making sure I'm on target with my goal and I've been doing that.
Pro MMA Radio: This is a really long layoff for you. Do you have any concerns about ring rust and if not, why not?
Kenny Florian: No, just because I know how I've been performing in the gym and for me I've been training for a really long time now. I never take much time off and of course I was forced to take some time off for the injury, I was off a couple of months but when I got back in there, I really had been envisioning myself throughout that layoff of training and I was watching video and I really picked up where I left off. I've been working very, very hard and I know when it's time to come out there and perform, I'll be able to do it. I'm excited, I'm really excited to ask for this fight. It's been too long.
Pro MMA Radio: You've mentioned that you're hoping to get that title at 145. You had that infamous episode of MMA Live where you asked about a title shot. Some people were upset about that, most notably Chad Mendes. Now Aldo is out and we don't know how long with the injury. If you and Mendes both win, he'll be 6-0 in the division, you'll be 1-0 at 145 but you've got a history in the other classes. Make the argument that you should get the shot over Mendes.
Kenny Florian: I think, at the end of the day, it's about putting on fights that the people want to see and the fights that will bring the most amount of attention. Having fought in the UFC for a while now, I've been able to get a good following. Unfortunately the WEC just didn't have that as much as the UFC fighters. I think will make it a marketable fight and if you look at skill-wise and the competition at 155, I've fought consistently against guys who are in the top 10 at 155 in the world and a win over a tough guy like Diego Nunes who's #4 in the world, why shouldn't I? Regardless of that, the only thing I'm focused on is Diego Nunes. I'm just there to go out there and win, whoever's in front of me I have to go out and beat.
Pro MMA Radio: You were at UFC 129. What were your impressions of [Jose Aldo's} performance?
Kenny Florian: I was still very impressed with Aldo's performance against Hominick. Hominick's no slouch. This guy is a veteran and he's fought all over the world against the best. A champion in the sport. You've got to give Hominick credit. Aldo may have been suffering from the effects of the infection he had so I still think it was an impressive performance. Before that, I know any man can be beat. Everyone is human and I didn't need that Aldo fight against Hominick to know that Aldo was human.
Pro MMA Radio: Diego is 16-1 overall, 5-1 under the Zuffa banner. He's coming off his UFC debut win over Mike Brown, great fight. When you look at tape of Diego Nunes, tell me what you see?
Kenny Florian: The kids a stud, man. He's in phenomenal condition, he fights at a fast pace. He's very good striker and very stingy when it comes the to grappling game. He doesn't give anything up. When you take him down he gets right back to his feet. This guy is very, very good. He finds ways to win and he trains with one of the best camps in the world in Brazil alongside Aldo. This is everything you want in a fight. This is a guy who's a veteran at this point. He's fought tough guys, beating Mike Brown in the fashion that he did is very very impressive. He's one of the best in the world in the weight class and that's what I wanted. Style-wise, I think this is one of the toughest fights of my career.
Pro MMA Radio: Where do you see advantages in the fight?
Kenny Florian: I'm gonna be the taller guy, I'll have the longer reach. We're both pretty much equal on experience and we're both very well conditioned. I think the striking is gonna be pretty even and I think I have the advantage in the jiu-jitsu department but we haven't really seen too much of him on the ground and there's only one way to find out. My goal is to be aggressive as always and to just go forward and pressure Diego and see if I can get him to make a mistake whether it's on the feet or on the ground.
Pro MMA Radio: How does this fight end, Kenny?
Kenny Florian: You know what? I'm definitely gonna be going for the finish as always. I don't know how it's gonna finish but I think it's gonna be a fast paced fight and it'll be an exciting fight. That's the way we both fight. One way or another, I think I'm gonna take him out whether it's on the ground or on the feet. I'm hoping to take him out. I don't want any fight to go to a decision, especially nowadays. It's too risky.
So what do you think Maniacs?
Will Florian be successful at 145 or will the weight cut and time off be too much of a factor for Kenflo?