Kenny Florian: My First Training Experience
One of the longest tenured fighters in the UFC, original Ultimate Fighter finalist Kenny Florian has not only called the Octagon home for more than six years but is still competing at an extremely high-level. The 14-5 145er has racked up wins in his career over a number of top lightweights including Takanori Gomi, Joe Lauzon, Roger Huerta, and Clay Guida, and will challenge Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title next month in Houston at UFC 136.
So how did “KenFlo” go from kicking soccer balls in college to kicking ass in the Octagon?
In the beginning, as FindMMAGym.com learned in an exclusive conversation with Florian, it involved a technique most of you at home could start today if you were so inclined.
“I guess it was learning from tapes,” the 35-year old said about his introduction to MMA. “For a couple of weeks me and my brother just drilled. We wore out a rug in the house just from drilling and sparring and rolling and things like that.”
Florian’s brother, Keith, is now a key part of the Florian Martial Arts Center in Brookline, Massachusetts.
After getting a taste of training through his VCR and his sibling, Florian decided to give something more substantial a shot.
“My first real experience was with Royce Gracie. We saved up money and went to New York and did a seminar with (him),” Florian began before explaining that his love of BJJ was immediate. “The first time I learned a jiu-jitsu technique I was hooked. It was like a drug that I knew I’d be taking forever. I was obsessed. From when I went to sleep to when I woke up, that’s all I wanted to do. My brain didn’t want to do anything else. I was obsessed and still am.”
While a legend like Gracie may not necessarily be available as he was when Florian first started his journey in Mixed Martial Arts, the sport’s growth in popularity has certainly inspired more top fighters to travel around the nation teaching classes. With that in mind, the UFC veteran also made it clear good training can still be found in most areas if you know what to look for.
“The gym needs to offer the ability to grow, learn, and evolve in the various disciplines. People need to find a place that has an open mind and that is willing to grow and that will cater to the fighter and his unique abilities.”
Florian’s love of BJJ has certainly shown in his career with nine of his wins coming via submission. Among the names on that list, in addition to Clay Guida, Takanori Gomi, and Joe Lauzon, are also past victories over Joe Stevenson and Sam Stout.