Kenny Florian file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
Calling Kenny Florian a perennial bridesmaid is not intended to feminize him: He’s a sensational fighter who has ignored the absence of a wrestling pedigree or a powerlifter’s physique and crafted a pretty devastating soldier out of himself. Aside from his career burps, his record is a who’s-who of the lightweight division.
And so Florian dropping a No. 1 contender’s bid to Gray Maynard this past weekend is no big shake. Maynard is a terrific wrestler, and Florian -- due to aforementioned lack of wrestling time as a kid -- gets a headache from wrestlers every time. The style made the fight, which is why it was bizarre to hear Dana White express the notion that Florian simply “chokes” in big fights; Florian countered by saying White doesn’t understand the micro technique of the sport. That’s one fewer Christmas card to worry about for each.
The fact is, Florian has skills that take him just a few floors short of the penthouse. Was he mentally fractured because he didn’t “engage” Maynard, or is the more likely explanation that he’s not going to wade in with typical aggression because he knows Maynard can respond with a tackle? Bad matchups make for bad performances. It’s not any more or less complicated than that.
Florian told media that he would have to rethink his attitude toward competition and whether, at 34, it’s worthwhile to continue. This is another example of how frustrating it can be to keep the WEC’s lighter divisions separate from both the UFC’s banner and its accompanying payroll. Florian going to 145 might be the reinvention he needs, but it comes with a paycheck he doesn’t.