Kenny Florian is returning to the broadcast booth, but this time he’ll be doing it for the PFL.
The retired Ultimate Fighter season 1 veteran, who previously called fights for the UFC, has now inked a deal to join the PFL where he will serve as part of the commentary team that also includes Sean O’Connell and UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture.
According to Florian, the opportunity to serve as a color commentator during fights again has definitely appealed to him for some time but it really was just the perfect opportunity when this offer came along.
“It’s exciting. I’ve never been afraid of trying new things and getting in new things,” Florian told MMA Fighting. “That’s what makes life so interesting. It’s been a little while since I’ve done color commentary for mixed martial arts so I’m excited to be back in the booth with a great team and with kind of a new chapter.
“Things got busy for a little while. I had a lot of other business ventures and things that I was getting into and I’ve had some time away. It’s kind of time to start getting back into it, into what I love. I love doing that. It’s something that’s always intrigued me. Being part of the PFL and the things that they do, it’s kind of a unique opportunity. It’s different in that you kind of go back to the old school martial arts roots of the tournament style format, which is always exciting.”
During his fight career, Florian was a multi-time title contender in the UFC and he was one of the first athletes to crossover into a broadcast role through various television deals with the promotion.
He served as a color commentator for the UFC as well as providing analysis during broadcasts when the promotion was working with FOX. Florian also served as host on ESPN’s series “MMA Live” alongside current podcast co-host Jon Anik.
While he fully intends on doing analyst work for PFL as well, Florian admits his enthusiasm definitely surrounds calling live fights again.
“I think there’s nothing like being in the booth for live fights,” Florian said. “It adds an energy and a certain quality to the broadcast, which is very different than doing the pre and post fight shows for example. So, I’m excited to get a chance to do both again because they are very different.
“Sometimes when you’re in the moment and you’re feeding off that energy, sometimes it’s a bad thing because you’re seeing things as clearly, you get caught up in the moment. So I’m going to try to be as self-aware as I can during those times. This is what I’ve been doing for such a long time and it’s going to be great to be back in a booth.”
When the PFL returns for the new season on April 23, Florian will be part of a three-man booth with O’Connell handling play-by-play duties and Couture serving as a color commentator as well.
It’s a unique dynamic that isn’t lost on Florian because for the first time ever, he’ll be calling fights alongside nothing but ex-fighters.
“I think for me, I’m just going to try to bring my flair and style to things the best that I can,” Florian said. “I’m going to be along two other awesome fighters in Sean O’Connell and Randy Couture. I think it’s really unique in the mixed martial arts realm that you get a team of three that has all fought, which is cool.
“Sean O’Connell comes from a radio and broadcast background so he’s such a natural at it anyways. I think that gives it a different perspective and we all kind of approach it with a different set of eyes, which is cool. We all can’t see everything and having that varied background and experience will really give the fans unique perspectives and varied perspectives.”
The upcoming PFL season will be the most ambitious yet for the promotion after adding numerous high profile free agents including former UFC champions Anthony Pettis and Fabricio Werdum as well as former Bellator champion Rory MacDonald.
That’s one particular storyline that really intrigues Florian as he begins studying the PFL athletes and the upcoming fights because established veterans like Pettis, Werdum and MacDonald may be fighting in this organization for the first time, but they all have a long list of accolades on their records.
Of course that also comes along with a certain amount of pressure and expectation, which Florian wants to see unfold once the PFL season gets underway.
“Certainly, in preparation for the fights, who doesn’t want to go out there from another organization and knockout the UFC guy?” Florian said. “They are going to get up for each and every fight. So Anthony Pettis, Rory MacDonald, Fabricio Werdum, these are the guys that are probably going to be the favorites but it also means guys are going to be gunning for them.
“I used to say this all the time — any time I had the chance to go against a champion, a former champion, anyone who was ranked above me, I saw that as an opportunity to steal everything that they accomplished. If they were a former champion or a champion, I could steal their credentials, I could steal their experience. So I think that’s not an easy position for them to be in and given the format and the tournament situation, they’re going to be in a difficult position here. I’m just fascinated by the whole thing and how it’s going to play out.”
Florian will call his first fight with the PFL on April 23 as Pettis headlines his first show with the promotion as he takes on fellow UFC veteran Clay Collard in the main event.