One of the most enduring fighter – trainer relationships in MMA, Kenny Florian and Mark Dellagrotte, has ended in the past week with Florian now believed to be heading for the Tristar gym in Canada where current Welterweight champion George St Pierre trains. The split comes after Florian failed in the second title challenge of his career at Lightweight against ‘The Prodigy’ BJ Penn at UFC 101 back in August.
Florian, who emerged in the UFC after appearing in first series of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ in 2005 (losing in the finale to Diego Sanchez), had been training under Mark Dellagrotte as part of Team Sityodtong since that time. It proved to be a successful partnership with Florian emerging as one of the Lightweight divisions top competitors including a 6 win streak leading up to his most recent fight that included victories over well respected fighters like Joe Lauzon, Roger Huerta and Joe Stevenson. He has also emerged as a television personality in recent times, hosting ESPN’s MMA Live show and filling in for Joe Rogan as color commentator at UFC events.
Despite this his failure to get his hands on the Lightweight belt must however be a source of frustration for the fighter. That is not however believed to be the reason for his departure from the gym. According to Dellagrotte, who also trains other UFC fighters such as Stephan Bonnar, Patrick Cote and Jorge Rivera, friction between himself and Florian”s brother Keith, who runs a martial arts academy has been the catalyst for the decision to part ways.
Whatever the reason for the split it will be interesting to see what a change in camp does for the 33 year old fighter. He is an intelligent fighter who is willing to learn and develop, attributes which will serve him well at a new camp. After losing his first title challenge to Sean Sherk in 2006 Florian realised that he had to raise his game to compete with the best, and he did just that. If his most recent defeat to BJ Penn can cause a similar evolution in his game then perhaps there is still time for Kenny Florian to take another run at the title.
Check out this video of Florian punching Dellagrotte in the face! (all in the name of science of course!):