BOSTON -- Kenny Florian
is the type of cerebral fighter who doesn't waste time getting overly invested in back-and-forth pre-fight chatter. In fact, it's downright unusual to hear Florian spout negatives about his opponent. He tends to stress his foe's strengths, realizing they are hurdles for him to jump.
Yet one comment made by UFC 118
opponent Gray Maynard
seemed to have gotten under Florian's skin. In a recent interview, Maynard voiced a belief that Florian tends to wilt under pressure. It was a comment to which the two-time top contender in the division took exception.
"I'm not sure where he got that from," Florian said following a media workout on Thursday. "When I had minimal skills and experience, I fought Sean Sherk for five rounds, and he beat me up good, but I was there until the end, trying to win with an arm lock or trying to knock his head off; whatever I could. I don't know what he's talking about. He's 'The Bully.' He's the guy who needs to be concerned with what happens if his will gets broken.
"I've never seen him in a bad situation, in a situation where he's getting beat down, he's on his back and he has to come back," Florian continued. "That's something he needs to deal with, in his own mind. He has nine fights of experience and I've never seen him in a bad situation, ever."
Florian noted while he's fought in two title bouts in the past, this is Maynard's first chance at something big; UFC president Dana White has promised the winner next crack at the lightweight belt.
Fighting in front of a partisan crowd, the Massachusetts-based Florian believes that big-match experience to go with the hometown advantage puts him in an enviable position.
"I really feel cool and calm going into this fight," he said. "I can't speak for Gray's mental state, but I can say that I've been in this situation before. Everyone's asking me if I feel pressure. I honestly don't. I've been here before. All those fights and experience I've had before has prepared me for this."
Florian went so far as to offer advice for Maynard, saying that if were game-planning Maynard to face him, he'd have Maynard try to keep the fight close standing before stealing each round with late takedowns. Still, he expects to handle everything the unbeaten Maynard (9-0, 1 no contest) can deliver.
While a win would give Florian his third try at a UFC belt, the fighter admitted that he didn't have a preference about fighting either current champ Frankie Edgar
or veteran legend BJ Penn
After explaining that his UFC 101 loss to Penn didn't have him hankering for a rematch, after a few minutes he later admitted that there was one reason he might prefer a matchup with the UFC legend.
"The only reason I would lean towards BJ Penn is because of what he's done in the sport," he said. "No disrespect to Frankie, he's obviously a tremendous fighter, but BJ has that legendary status, no doubt about it. And beating a guy like that elevates your status. That's the only reason I'd lean towards BJ, but other than that I just want to face the best guy."