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Audio: Kenny Florian talks about his loss to BJ Penn and fight strategy

By Zach Arnold | August 12, 2009

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Steve Cofield put audio online (here) of an 8-minute interview that ProMMA radio did with Kenny Florian. Kenny talked about his loss to BJ Penn, how he sees Penn vs. Diego Sanchez turning out as a fight, and thoughts on Anderson Silva’s masterful performance at UFC 101.


Q: “How much did that time out of the cage play into it for you? Did you have any ring rust coming into this one?”

Kenny Florian: “You know, I didn’t think it would be a factor just because I stayed busy throughout, I was training hard um throughout you know since November and you know besides a little layoff for the surgery I had for my tonsils, other than that I was great and I didn’t think it would be a factor and of course, you always have to be a positive and not think it’s going to be factor but um it definitely was you know… You know being almost 9 months away from the cage you know it hurt me, I felt like my timing with my striking it’s always an issue you know for me being away it’s always kind of caused me some problems, uh, kind of being away with the striking aspect you know it’s hard, I just found that I couldn’t get my range and my timing going during the fight and felt I wasn’t effective there. Um, and uh, you know, that was the main thing, I just felt uncomfortable with my striking, I just felt I wasn’t I didn’t get my normal range um and timing that I wanted.”

Q: “Going into the fourth round, I had BJ winning the first and third and I had you winning the second. And you know, I think most people have given BJ the first but there’s been kind of a split of opinion on the second and third because for me I thought they were razor-thin rounds. What were you thinking going into the fourth? Where did you think you were in the fight?”

Kenny Florian: “I knew it was close, I knew it was close going in, obviously into the fourth you know I figured that I definitely won the second and third, the first you know he caught me with a good shot but you know I was kind of off-balance, I looked like I got knocked down and I said well, you know maybe he took the first and the second and third I was confident that I won but going into the fourth obviously you know with where he was ending up where he ended up with the takedown on top, I knew he was obviously going to win that round and my goal was to survive and try to make it to the fifth where I would be able to push and try to squeeze out the win but you know at that point I had made too big of a mistake and you know I knew against a guy like BJ you can’t make those kind of mistakes and I knew that if I was able to you know find BJ and catch him in a mistake I knew I was going to be at an advantage and at the highest level you just can’t make those mistakes and I did and that was that.”

Q: “Kenny, what was the mistake?”

Kenny Florian: “Um, you know the mistake was pretty much me not being able to pin my legs up against the fence when he shot in. Um, you know he was able to get behind my legs and get a nice double-leg, um, and that was it. You know, pretty much if you’re on your back with BJ it’s going to be very difficult and um you know just couldn’t get things going in there, you know, to get things going when I was on my back I tried my best to defend BJ’s best position and I was probably in my best position when I’m on top so you know I knew it was going to be difficult trying off my back against a guy like BJ Penn and you know I made a little mistake, he was able to mount and that was that.”

Q: “Did you get any information from the judges’ scorecards as to how the fight had been scored in the first three rounds?”

Kenny Florian: “Um, the commissioner (Greg Sirb) you know came over to me and said that you know I don’t know I guess a couple of the judges had me winning the first couple of rounds I was two-to-one or maybe one of the judges had me all three, I don’t know exactly what happened but he told me that I know that a couple of judges may have had me winning so I don’t know exactly it didn’t really matter to me, heh, for me it was a failure , I wasn’t able to win the fight so.”

Q: “You know we get some guys that they want to kill each other and the second the fight’s over they’re over you know fine and we get other guys where it doesn’t necessarily end.”

Kenny Florian: “Um, you know, for me, I didn’t have any hard feelings against BJ really, you know, I uh my focus is on the fight going into that, you know, I didn’t I’m not going to let what someone says about me or say something you know, I’m not in High School any more, you know, rumors and what people may say about me or say things that it doesn’t bother me, I’m still going to go in there and do my job.”

Q: “Re-match Penn… in four months… When you go back into the lab with your team and I know you have a phenomenal group around you, what do you say – OK, you know what, here’s what we need to focus on because that’s what I need to be able to do beat this guy now that I’ve been in the cage with him.”

Kenny Florian: “Well, you know, I think the answer’s simple but the solutions are a little more trickier. It’s everything, you know. I really feel that um there’s a lot of little things that I should have done better in the whole round game, you know obviously the wrestling me being able to finish there with my takedowns, I think my entry was very good, being able to get in, my timing was OK on the entries for the takedown but obviously finishing just wasn’t there, wasn’t it what it should have been um, my striking my timing was off so um I think that comes down to me just being a little more active, um, I can’t be away from the cage for more than three or four months, I just can’t.”

Q: “What do you think you have to do to put yourself back in that position?”

Kenny Florian: “You know, I don’t know. You know, I really don’t know, I’m looking forward to seeing what the UFC has in their plans for me, um, you know I just want a tough fight, it’s going to have to be someone tough at least once or twice you know for me to get back in there for the belt and we’ll see what happens, you know, I’m looking forward to it, I’m looking forward to the challenges, certainly there’s a ton of challengers left for me at 155 and I know for that to happen it can’t be against anybody without a big name, it’s going to have to be a big name fighter, a great fighter, a well-respected fighter, one of the top guys out there and hopefully the UFC can give that to me and hopefully it’s soon, I want to get right back in there in a couple of months.”

(Discussion of the upcoming BJ Penn vs. Diego Sanchez fight)

Q: “Put your analyst hat on for a minute, Kenny. How does that play out? Who do you favor in that fight and why?”

Kenny Florian: “Um, you know, BJ Penn obviously I think uh, Diego just I don’t he has the striking to get it done, I don’t think he has the wrestling to get it done, he has phenomenal cardio, phenomenal heart, great ground skills, um, but I think he’s going to have some trouble with BJ um you know I see BJ winning that fight, I just think BJ’s going to be a little bit too much for him but you know who knows, crazy things happen all the time in this sport but you got to have BJ as a favorite going into that fight, you know, no doubt about it, I expect BJ to win.”

Q: “You were on this card with Anderson Silva. Scary performance, I mean, you know, just he looked like he was from another planet. Is he the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world in your opinion?”

Kenny Florian: “Geez, you know I tell you what, after that performance I mean, he’s such a special fighter that there’s no doubt about it, you know it’s between him and Georges St. Pierre you know really and maybe I’m a little biased because I’m friends with Georges but both of those guys are very well-deserving and obviously you have Fedor and Lyoto Machida not very far behind, but Anderson Silva it just that’s that’s his home out there, he’s got the difference, when you see a guy like that, you got to show him you got to show the people the fans of this sport and of course maybe the people who aren’t fans of this sport yet, Anderson Silva is the perfect person for you to show a fight to and say, listen guys, this is an artist, he’s not an fighter, he’s an artist, he’s just he is an absolute master, it’s beautiful to watch him fight and he’s such a great person and to see him succeed and to see what he’s doing in this sport is nothing short of amazing, it’s so well-deserved.”


Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 14 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

14 Responses to “Audio: Kenny Florian talks about his loss to BJ Penn and fight strategy”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    Kenny Florian provided the blueprint on how to beat BJ Penn.

    I predicted Florian would win, and it looked like he was going potentially eek out a decision after the 3rd round. The problem is that he got too tired.

    Penn’s biggest weakness is up against the fence. He can be outpointed there all day and has shown a real lack of ability of getting himself out of that position.

  2. david m says:

    I have no idea how anyone could have scored any round for Florian. I don’t think he landed a blow of consequence the entire fight. His gameplan was to run away from BJ on the feet, then go with a standing lay and pray so BJ couldn’t beat the shit out of him standing or embarrass him on the ground. A fight isn’t about ability to hug your opponent against the cage while he lands way more punches than you do, it is about hurting your opponent, and Kenny did nothing. He was entirely outclassed. The only reason it made it to 4 rounds was because the ref was content to allow Kenny to employ vertical LnP for way too long without breaking them. Kenny lost every single exchange.

  3. Nepal says:

    It is possible that any or all of the first 3 rounds could have been awarded to Kenny, just by the nature of the scoring system. However the reality is BJ was superior in the stand up and scored the only meaningful shots of the night. Kenny pushed BJ up against the cage and because of that gets “octagon control” but to me, BJ won all 3 rounds.

    I think BJ proved he’s on a much higher level than Kenny and most likely anybody else in the 55 division.

    I think if BJ went for the takedown more aggressively earlier, he could have got it and finished earlier.

    45, I hardly think Kenny got tired. Kenny has very good cardio, there was no evidence of Kenny tiring.

    Kenny obviously wanted to use GSP’s press against the cage tactic but GSP’s 15+ pounds heavier than Kenny so it just wasn’t going to be effective. However BJ does need to work on exploding out of that position. I’m sure he’ll do that before the Diego fight.

  4. Jemaleddin says:

    I dunno – Fightmetric’s stats seem to show that Kenny wasn’t winning any of those rounds. Maybe there are judges who think holding somebody up against the fence and getting punched in the face and kneed in the legs is winning.

    Honestly, BJ showed that he was so far beyond Kenny – he took him down and crushed him so easily in the fourth round when Kenny’s conditioning was supposed to make it easy to beat BJ. And if BJ was able to make that kind of correction to his conditioning, do you think he’s going to ignore the weaknesses in his game this time?

  5. Alan Conceicao says:

    Diego’s strength isn’t wrestling. I can’t see that being part of his gameplan to beat BJ. He’ll probably try to overwhelm him with strikes and get stopped early.

  6. Maybe BJ can get some credability back for all of the nay sayers calling him a crybaby for the GSP “greasegate” remarks. I would still like to see them go at it again, this time with a full body wipe down before the fight starts.

  7. Zack says:

    LOL @ scoring a single round for Kenny. Failed takedown attempts win points now? BJ won every single exchange.

  8. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    I don’t buy the “so far beyond” comments. Kenny wasn’t winning at any point, but he wasn’t being destroyed or humiliated either. This was not a situation like some of the more recent GSP fights.

    Someone is going to beat Penn soon.

  9. The Gaijin says:

    Yeah he’ll (Diego) be able to really take him out with all those 1-uppercut comobo flurries for sure! 🙂

    Diego’s gonna get mud-hole stomped if he goes in there with Penn. I really wasn’t blown away by either of his wins over Stevenson (Rogan/Goldy were at their Frank Mir-esque best of totally seeing a fight for Diego and calling everything he did 10X better than it was, and ignoring everything Joe did) and Guida (outside of the first round).

  10. 45 Huddle says:

    The pace of Penn’s last two Lightweight Title Defenses have been slow. The Sherk fight was a slower boxing match. The Florian fight was just slow in general.

    Sanchez has a chance to beat him if he forces him to constantly move. He needs to get Penn to go beyond his normal comfort level with pacing of the fight. I’m talking about a lot of grappling scrambles and things of this nature.

    If he can do this without taking too much abuse, he can take over in the later rounds. Penn was breathing extremely hard after his fight with Florian, which is surprising because he didn’t do that much.

    That is one of two strategies to beating Penn. The other is to mash him up against the cage for 5 rounds and slowly score points with dirty boxing. Don’t even go for takedowns like Florian was doing. Just mash him against the cage and wear on him. It wouldn’t work for a guy like Florian who isn’t physically strong. It would for a guy like Maynard…

    Either way, as Jeremy has basically said, Penn is beatable.

  11. Mr.Roadblock says:

    I suggest watching UFC’s while either talking to someone, in a loud bar or with the sound turned down.

    Goldie and Rogan do a horrendous job commentating. Listening to those two is the only way to think Florian did anything other than vertical lay and pray. He looked like John Ruiz in there.

    I re-watched the Brock Lesnar/Randy fight the other day. I originally saw it in a bar while I was on the road. Lesnar destroyed Randy. He looked a little tired at the very end of round 1. But basically put on an asswhooping clinic. Rogan who was clearly rooting for Randy, actually rooting from the broadcast booth, made it sound like a fight. Insane.

    Same thing with Belcher/Akiyama. Akiyama did way more damage. I think Joe and Goldie have guys they really like and push them from the booth. Same as the horrendous HBO announcers.

    I wasn’t overly impressed with BJ the other night. I thought he should have dispatched Florian earlier. But Florian had nothing going in that fight. He should actually be embarrassed by his performance because it appeared his plan was more not to lose than to win and he lost.

    Gray Maynard has the tools to beat BJ. He should be able to get him down and has very good hands. He can wear BJ down and then pound on him.

    Also Gray has a mental edge in that BJ hired Gray to teach him wrestling after Gray got out of college. I think that will play in as a psychological edge for Gray.

  12. Alan Conceicao says:

    People want BJ to lose because they don’t like his attitude. Its what pushed people to think Florian had a chance when he really should have been about a 5-1 dog. Diego has less of a chance. Same with Gray. Gray’s a good wrestler but he’s not GSP or Hughes sizewise: BJ will run a clinic on him standing and then sub him. There’s zero that Diego does that Penn doesn’t do noticeably better.

  13. david m says:

    Did I just read that Gray Maynard, king of lay and pray, will beat BJ Penn? LOL, you’re delusional. Generally when you are not as good on the feet as your opponent or as good on the ground as him, and you arent significantly larger, you have no shot.

  14. Zack says:

    The better question is will they ever give Gray a shot. If he won, I’m sure UFC would be thrilled to have his title fights going 5 rounds on every card.


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