After UFC 118, President Dana White had kind words for everyone. He even managed to say some nice things about the overweight and underskilled boxer James Toney. Kenny Florian was not so lucky. White unleashed on the lightweight contender at the post fight press conference:
"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. Every time it's a big fight and there's a lot of things on the line, Kenny just ... Kenny's hands are unbelievable. Kenny's ground is unbelievable. Kenny usually kicks guys to the body and legs so hard that he busts guys up. You didn't see any of that tonight. He stood there and stared at Gray Maynard for three rounds."
Florian fans were outraged, as were some bloggers. Cageside Seats writer Gene Mrosko thought White was out of line:
It really pains me to hear him say such a thing. First of all it doesn't make any sense for him to outright give us a reason to ignore any future Kenny Florian fights. If he chokes in the big one, which means his career is not headed anywhere special, then why should we care about him anymore? What's the ultimate goal for his career now? Those aren't questions that really need to be asked though. They're hypothetical based on what White is saying. In some ways he is right but for the most part he's wrong.
Mrosko isn't the only one who thinks White is talking crazy. Kenny Florian agrees.
Continued after the jump
The MMA Live cohost took umbrage at White's harsh words, telling Boston.com that White was judging his career on a single performance:
"I think that’s dead wrong,’’ said Florian, who prior to Saturday had won eight of his last nine outings. "I’ve been in a lot of main events, I’ve been in a lot of different fights for the organization. I don’t think that’s the case at all. Every fight in the UFC is a big fight. The [Takanori] Gomi fight wasn’t a big fight? The [Joe] Stevenson fight wasn’t a big fight? The Lauzon fight wasn’t a big fight? They were all main events, top of the card. That really doesn’t make any sense."
Florian doesn't just believe that White is wrong about his big game nerves- he also suggested to the Boston Herald that the UFC President was ignorant to the fight game's nuances:
"I don’t think that really makes any sense," Florian told the Herald yesterday. "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....
"I didn’t freeze at all. I felt fine. I felt relaxed," Florian said. "The guy was a better wrestler than me, that’s it. He controlled me very well on the ground, he pinned me up against the fence. I don’t understand where this mental block is coming from."
White's opinions matter.That's why Mrosko believes trampling Florian in the press makes no sense for anyone involved:
So we can surmise that Florian has a problem with strong wrestlers who can control him once they get on top of him. That has nothing to do with the fact that he was in a big fight. When Dana comes out and says that, he's really killing Florian's credibility with the fans. Whether people want to admit it or not, what White says helps shape what people actually believe. If he thinks Florian can't win a big fight then what reason does anyone have to disagree with him?