A title shot could come quickly at 145 pounds for Kenny Florian. | File Photo: Dave Mandel


Kenny Florian makes his featherweight debut Saturday at UFC 131, and he thinks his matchup against Diego Nunes offers an opportunity to jump straight into the title mix at 145 pounds.

“I think if you look at what I’ve done at 155 and what I’ve done in my career, bringing the skills and the experience that I have … beating a guy in the top five in the world, yeah, I think that puts me in line for a shot right away,” Florian said recently during an interview on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “Who knows? We’ll see. I think it definitely does.”

It was actually an expected matchup against featherweight champion Jose Aldo at 155 pounds that got Florian thinking about a move to 145. When Aldo decided not to go up to lightweight and the fight fell through, Florian began looking into whether it was possible to drop down.

“When I found out that it was, the next step was, how can we get there?” Florian said. “How can we make that happen? How can we fight the best fighters possible? That’s what I was motivated for.”

To make 145 pounds, Florian had to start his diet much earlier in his training camp. For a disciplined athlete, however, that hasn’t been much of an issue.

“I’ve been hitting the schedule every month, every week,” Florian said. “I feel great. The workouts have been phenomenal. I still have a lot of energy. It’s been the best camp of my life, and here I am going down another weight class. Maybe this has been the weight class for me all along?”

For his first featherweight bout, the UFC has matched Florian against Diego Nunes. The Brazilian is ranked No. 7 in the world by Sherdog.com and knocked off former WEC champion Mike Thomas Brown earlier this year.

“They gave me Diego Nunes, and when I found that out, I said great. That’s a fight worth going down for,” Florian explained. “Again, I’m not in here to beat guys up. I want to face the best, and Diego Nunes is one of the best in the world at 45.”

Of course, one benefit of fighting top competition is where a win can put you in the title picture. That’s a big part of Florian’s motivation.

“I want to put myself in the position to fight for the belt, and it’s not going to happen against just a regular Joe Shmoe,” he said. “It’s gotta happen against one of the top guys in the world. For those who want to get a title shot, you have to prove yourself. What better way to prove yourself than to face one of Jose Aldo’s training partners?”

Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:08:30).

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