I had a chance to talk with UFC lightweight contender Kenny Florian recently, and the full interview is now live on Cage Potato. Florian is one of the smartest, most self-aware fighters that I’ve had the opportunity to interview, and his story is an interesting one.
Here’s an excerpt:
Reading past interviews with you, it seems like you’re really motivated by your losses. What’s it like after a big loss, when you get back to the dressing room and have to face that dark moment? How do you move past it?
It’s a terrible, terrible feeling. My loss to Sean Sherk haunts me to this day. At the same time it motivates me, and I can look at it as a positive experience. You can let things like that defeat you, or you put them behind you and learn from them and get better. That’s what I tried to do. There’s no such thing as a setback in life. There are only lessons. We’re made to evolve and get better and faster and stronger. You can do that within your own life.
It’s like pushing weights for the first time and your body’s sore and it sucks and it’s really hard, but after a while your muscles and your nervous system and everything gets stronger. Your muscle memory gets better. That’s the way it is with certain things in fighting. If you have a loss, you need to look at it and learn from it. What technical mistakes did I make? What strategic mistakes did I make? What mental mistakes did I make?
You cover all those bases and, if you need to, write it down and start working on patching those holes up. You can only look at it as a positive and live in the present day. If you live in the past, you’re dead.
Reading about your near-death experience in Brazil, it seems like that had a profound effect on the course of your life. If that incident didn’t happen, do you think you’d have become a pro fighter?
It’s funny, because I’m not sure. I think there are certain times in life where we need to be shaken up so we realize that life is short and you need to not just follow what feels good, but follow what you love. That was a fear of mine. What if I give up this full-time job to try to be a pro fighter or a jiu-jitsu teacher or whatever my plans were at the time, and what would happen? I might be a failure and my friends and family will look at me as a loser, and here I had this job and this life that I gave up.
But that experience just made me realize how much regret I would have had if I had died at the moment and never got a chance to chase my dream and do what I really loved doing. It would have been a shame. I think there are a lot of people in life who are doing that. I’m not saying it’s necessarily bad, because I think there’s something noble about trying to provide for your family and making ends meet, but at the same time if there’s something that you love and that you’re passionate about, why not try and do it?
I’m glad I made that decision. It was tough at times. I had to move out of my place. I had to live with family and friends for a while. It was tough, but I wouldn’t change anything. I went from making around forty thousand dollars a year to making just a few thousand dollars a year, but I was waking up and putting a gi on every day and I was happy as hell.
Read the full interview here.