At Saturday night’s post-fight press conference UFC president Dana White was surprisingly critical of Kenny Florian’s performance at UFC 118, in which he lost out on a title shot after dropping a unanimous decision to Gray Maynard.
“I hate to say this because I don’t want to take anything away from Gray Maynard, but I think Kenny is just one of those guys who chokes in big fights. I’m not bad-mouthing him or trying to disrespect him; I’m just being honest,” said White.
Needless to say Florian was not particularly happy about White’s comments and responded to them in an interview with The Boston Herald.
“I don’t think that really makes any sense,” Florian said. “For me, it’s someone who is just looking at the big picture and not looking at the actual fight game. It’s someone who isn’t actually that familiar with the full technique of the game. I didn’t crumble. I was outwrestled. Gray fought a smarter fight. That was it.”
“Every fight in the UFC is big,” he continued. “I’ve been in several main events for the UFC, which I’ve won,” said Florian, who listed the top lightweights he has defeated. “It’s easy to ignore the good and highlight the bad. I think, looking at the big picture, it doesn’t make sense. You have to look at the technical fight game, and I’m not sure Dana does that all the time.”
It’s interesting to see a little friction developing between White and Florian, who up until this point have always appeared to be on very good terms.
I suspect this will turn out to be little more than a storm in a teacup though. Florian remains one of the best lightweights on the company’s roster and he’s also tipped to become a future color-commentator for the promotion when he retires, so it makes no sense to continue bad-mouthing him.
Having said that I do think there is an element of truth to what White is saying, I’ve wrote similar comments myself since the fight took place. Florian is an intelligent fighter, but sometimes it appears that he overthinks in the big fights and struggles to pull the trigger.