Back injury sidelining TUF 1 finalist
Three-time UFC title challenger Kenny Florian, who has not fought since October, is considering retirement due to a back injury.
The news comes from the Boston Herald, which spoke to the Massachusetts native and resident about what the 35-year-old lightweight’s next MMA move might be. Florian said a herniated disc in his back, suffered while lifting weights, might be enough to force him to hang up his gloves.
“I’ve kind of been going back and forth with some of the doctors, so it’s possible. I’m going to see,” Florian told the newspaper. “As of right now, obviously I can’t compete and train like I was at all. I’m just kind of doing what I can and hoping that things heal up and get better. I’m just kind of in a holding pattern. That’s why I decided to do this commentary for the time being and take this next six months to really heal up and try to make some money on the side. It sucks. The last couple of months I’ve just been figuring out what’s going on and what I’m going to do.”
Florian (14-6, 12-5) is a regular analyst on ESPN’s “MMA Live,” as well as the co-host of the new “UFC Tonight” half-hour news program on Fuel TV, which airs on Tuesday nights. He also has done sporadic color commentary on UFC broadcasts when regular analyst Joe Rogan has prior commitments.
Florian was already at a career crossroad, electing to build his strength back up following a pair of fights at featherweight so he could return stronger at lightweight. Florian told HeavyMMA in November he was taking his planned return one day at a time, seeing how his body reacted. But that apparently was after suffering this current injury.
According to the Herald, the back injury has also caused numbness and tingling in his right leg, and after consulting with a neurologist and orthopedic doctor, both recommended he retire.
Florian’s last fight was a featherweight title loss to Jose Aldo at UFC 136 in October. He got the title shot on the strength of one victory at 145 pounds, a unanimous decision over Diego Nunes in his featherweight debut in June. Florian twice lost UFC lightweight title fights, first to Sean Sherk at UFC 64, then to BJ Penn at UFC 101. He also was a middleweight finalist on Season 1 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” but lost to Diego Sanchez. He is the only fighter in UFC history to compete in four weight classes – he fought at middleweight in order to get on TUF 1, then returned to welterweight. He spent most of his career at lightweight, where he planned to return after his two-fight stint at featherweight, which he told HeavyMMA was the hardest thing he’d ever done in terms of how it took a toll on his body.
It is no secret Florian’s post-fighting career is likely to be in front of the camera – and that is what he is focusing on while hoping the injury heals to the point he can make one more run in the lightweight division.
“It’s not good,” Florian told the Herald of the outlook for a return. “That’s why I’m trying to stay hopeful. We’ll see. I’ve been out here in (Los Angeles) doing this show every week for ‘UFC Tonight’ for Fuel TV and doing some other things. I’m just hoping that it can heal up and get better and then see if I can go back to doing what I was doing. So far, I still need to rest. If I go to do something physical, I’m just not able to do it. That pain is coming back.”