Kenny Florian is an MMA legend and he has a long history of being in love with the art of Jiu-Jitsu, that can be traced all the way back to his first meeting with Royce Gracie. Florian became a professional MMA fighter in 2003 and put together a 2-1 record before becoming part of the very first season of The Ultimate Fighter. He made it all the way to the final and although he didn’t win, he earned a UFC contract and quickly became a fan-favourite. Throughout his career he fought for a UFC title in two weightclasses and on three different occasions, before retiring with a 14-6 record and turning to life as a colour-commentator and analyst for the sport.
Kenny Florian recently sat down with Charles Yao from the Fight Untold for a lengthy interview and the topic turned to a Jiu-Jitsu seminar he had with Royce Gracie when he was younger:
“For me, any time I saw a martial arts movie, those were the real superheroes to me. That’s who I wanted to be, that’s who I looked up to. So when I met Royce Gracie for the first time I think I was probably in awe a little bit. I was surprised that he was actually a little bit bigger than I had thought, he was still lanky. But he’s like 6’1, 6’2, a decent-sized guy. He had a certain presence about him that I liked. He was definitely very confident and there was a look in his eyes that told you not to mess with him, no matter what. There was kind’ve a darkness there that you knew not to challenge. My brother and I were just so intrigued, and we did that seminar, and we literally trained Jiu-Jitsu every single day since that moment.”
Although Kenny Florian explains that he had plenty of experience with various martial arts throughout his youth, it was the discovery of Jiu-Jitsu from Royce Gracie that quickly took over his life:
“I couldn’t stop thinking about Jiu-Jitsu. Whether I was about to go to sleep, when I woke up, when I was in the shower, when I was in school. That’s all I wanted to do, that’s all I wanted to think about. There was this obsession that was connected with that. All of these feelings that I had when I was a kid when I was doing martial arts, which to me was the closest thing to a religious experience, bubbled to the surface again. I was like ‘man, I’m doing this again. I have to do this again'”
The full interview with Kenny Florian where he explains his first meeting with Royce Gracie and how that led to him training Jiu-Jitsu for the entirety of his life was uploaded to the official YouTube channel of Fight Untold: