Sure there has been a war of words between lightweight top contender Kenny Florian and UFC champion BJ Penn, but deep down Florian has a lot of respect for Penn’s MMA game. He knows that he might have to take a beating in order to get there, but it will be well worth it to have the belt wrapped around his waist.
“I have a lot of respect for BJ as a fighter and what he’s done. He’s been an inspiration to me as well,” Florian said. “Look at what he’s done. From the jiu-jitsu world becoming a world champion and what he’s done in the UFC and the MMA world, and he’ll go down as one of the best ever.
“But on August 8th, you can’t respect your opponent. You have to respect his skills and disrespect his strategy, and go out there and play your game and take [BJ Penn] out.”
Speaking of Sherk, the MMA vet took a convincing win over Florian in his only title fight at UFC 64. Since the loss, Florian has collected six impressive wins en route to this highly anticipated showdown.
He appears ready to unleash a furry on Penn, a-la Georges St-Pierre. The welterweight champ even shared some tricks of the trade with Florian as he helped train the Bostonian for the biggest fight of his career.
“I’m going to go out there and take him out and that’s what it’s about,” Florian stated. “You’re either the hunter or you’re the hunted, and you have to go out there and take care of business. Too much respect for your opponent will get you a nice loss on your career and that’s something I’m not willing to give up.”
It’s with that same relentless attitude that Florian has attacked his training camp with. His life has been consumed with preparing for Penn and the many challenges he presents, both physically and mentally.
It’s been a long time coming, but Florian definitely believes that he is ready for another shot at UFC gold.
“To be able to beat BJ would mean the world to me,” Florian said. “The challenge of testing your skills against a fighter like that, that’s what gets me excited. For me it would just be like ‘hey all this freaking work I’m putting in here, all the hours when no one was watching, all the times I was working out when everyone else was just hanging out, when I’m eating healthy and everyone else is eating like crap, all the hours, and all the sacrifice, the blood, sweat and tears; it wasn’t for nothing.’
“The belt will be for anyone who’s ever trained with me. It will be for my coaches. It will be for my family, my friends, and everyone who’s supported me.”