You’re a UFC fighter, gym owner, ESPN analyst, and constant Twitterer (@kennyflorian)—how much free time do you have each day?
Not a whole lot. I have time between my training sessions to rest and decompress a little bit. I’m not really able to watch as much TV or do as many things or go as many places as I’d like to. I love it. That’s the crazy thing. I’d rather be training more than anything else.
What’s the one thing that you wish you could do more?
I’d like to hang out with girls a little bit more than I do. I usually just hang out with guys [laughs]. Hot supermodels—I wish I had more time to hang out with supermodels. I definitely have to work that into my schedule.
You’re now a featherweight—everyone probably assumed a supermodel was helping you cut weight.
Yeah [laughs], I’m on the Kate Moss diet.
Speaking of featherweights, you face José Aldo for the title at UFC 136 on Oct. 8. Is this the biggest fight of your career?
Without a doubt. I’ve faced a lot of tough guys in my career, and this is one of those fights I get to use my experience and put it all together and become champion. That’s what I’ve been working for. I absolutely believe that this will be the toughest fight of my life.
You’ve experienced 16 fights in the UFC. Which one is your favorite?
I don’t know. I hate all of my fights. Actually, one of the losses. The loss I had to Sean Sherk was one of the fights where—even though I was tremendously out-experienced—I still went five rounds. It was a bloody war, and it was kind of my acceptance into the UFC. It pushed me to new levels. It really drove me to train harder and harder every fight.
What’s the biggest misconception that people have about fighters?
That it is mindless—that there is not a lot of strategy involved, that there is not a lot of intelligence, that there is not a lot of technique. Some people think that we just go out there and start throwing punches and it’s just random violence. That’s one of the things that angers me the most.
In your fight against Drew Fickett in 2004, Dana White was scouting him for a shot at The Ultimate Fighter, but he was so impressed by your performance that he went with you instead. Do you ever wonder what your life would be like had you never caught the eye of the UFC president?
I definitely believe I would not be fighting in the UFC, because at that time, I had no intention of being a fighter. I really just did MMA to test my BJJ skills. It was just something I did for fun as a new test, a new challenge. I was more into the grappling aspect of the martial arts. It wasn’t until I lost in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter that I decided to try and do this.
Do you think being stereotyped as a smart, hardworking fighter is a dig at your athletic abilities?
I think people sleep on my athletic ability a little bit, but I think it all comes down to the mind. Some people will fold when they face hard times. There have been studies on people who are naturally talented, and the first time they meet failure in their life, they just fold and don’t know how to handle it. They end up becoming failures because of that—because they’ve been talented their whole life. Both my dad and mom instilled a good work ethic in me. By no means did I come from a poor family or anything like that. But, my parents always taught me that I had to work for what I wanted. They weren’t going to hand it to me. My dad had it tough, my mom had it tough. They came from Peru, and they had to work for their success, and they wanted to do the same for us. It came down to working harder than everyone else. My dad has said it since the beginning. As a foreigner coming in as a physician, he had to be twice as good as everyone else, work twice as much as everyone else if he wanted to get the business or get a certain job. He basically instilled that in us. We have to outwork everybody. There is always going to be someone better than you, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to outwork someone, and that’s something I’ve always tried to carry with me.
Thanks, Kenny. Good luck outworking José Aldo on Oct. 8.
“There is always going to be someone better than you, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to outwork someone”