Before UFC 87 began, many MMA fans were looking forward to one of the most exciting lightweight bouts of the year between Kenny Florian and Roger Huerta. Although the fight wasn’t as action packed as most had hoped, Florian’s dominant performance showed that he is deserving of another title shot. It was just another example of Florian going with the “Flo” of the fight.
Florian normally is the aggressor in his bouts, having finished all of his opponents in his previous nine MMA career victories. However, this fight was different. He had never faced a striker as dynamic and strong as Huerta before and was forced to play a more defensive role.
“That (footwork) was something I worked on a lot with my coaches…those guys just kept on yelling at me to circle, circle, circle,” Florian said about his defensive strategy. “Having my brother out there, he did his best to mimic Roger. But I tell you what, Roger was the best that I’ve seen him and I really had to work and circle away. I was just listening to my coach that just kept telling me to keep my hands up, keep my hands up. They must of told that to me a thousand times before I went out there.”
He and his camp knew the kind of power that Huerta possessed, and didn’t want to be apart of another one of his highlight reel clips. The key to Florian winning the fight was to play a smart defensive game, then capitalize offensively when the openings presented themselves.
“Powerful kid, he hits hard,” Florian said of his opponent. “I had to make sure I didn’t go straight back against him. So footwork was a huge part of the strategy against him. We respect Roger a lot in his power. You can’t get into a brawl with this kid, cause he’s gonna come out on top in that regard and we wanted to play a smart fight and I did my best to execute that.”
And execute he did, taking the fight rather easily via unanimous decision. It was Florian’s first ever MMA win by a decision, and he is hoping that it will be his last. He wants to be known as a finisher. However, finishing off nine out of ten opponents isn’t bad.
So the question is, what is next for Kenflo? With the win, he has all but assured himself next crack at current lightweight champion BJ Penn, however, it looks as though Penn will be moving up a weight class to fight welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre for his title on December 27th.
“I just want to keep fighting top guys, because I’m in the right division, in the right organization,” Florian stated. “I just gotta keep winning, that’s it. Keep winning and I can’t be denied.”
When asked if he would prefer to wait for Penn to recover from his December bout, then take on the champion for his crown, or possibly take on another opponent in the meantime, Florian gave the answer that only true warriors give.
“That’s what I’m here for,” stated the motivated lightweight. “(In) regards to that, I don’t really want to wait around either. I want to fight before the end of the year. Hopefully, I can fight around that same time and then fight BJ after that.”
Florian knows that Penn is the class of the division, and if it takes risking his top contender status to better help him prepare for Penn, so be it.
“Obviously, the fans will love the fight,” he said. “I think I’m gonna win every fight. I’m not gonna go in there and lay down for anybody. Yeah, [Penn’s] a great talent. He’s a great fighter, but when the UFC tells me to fight someone, I’m going to train to win and that’s it.”