This weekend former UFC Lightweight contender Kenny Florian will officially make the move to Featherweight. Florian’s move to Featherweight is the first of its kind since WEC’s Featherweight division was folded into the UFC, Jose Aldo being crowned as the first UFC Featherweight Champion. For fans, Florian almost immediately becomes a top contender for the Featherweight title, with Diego Nunes his first opponent.
If you are a kickboxing fan, the possibility of a Florian and Aldo clash is a bit different, as both fighters are known for their striking prowess. Aldo is known for his explosive power in his striking, while Florian is known for adding a solid in-tight Muay Thai game to his outstanding jiu-jitsu. What is truly interesting is that both men have incorporated some of the finest kickboxers in the world to their training camps.
Jose Aldo while preparing for his UFC debut went to the Netherlands to train with one of the finest competitors that 70kg has ever seen in Andy Souwer. Andy Souwer can bring an interesting perspective to Aldo’s striking, as Souwer not only has experience in Muay Thai and Kickboxing, but he is also one of the best to ever compete in Japan’s strange hybrid sport of Shoot Boxing. Shoot Boxing incorporates the standard Kickboxing rules along with Judo elements of throws and standing submissions. To excel at Shoot Boxing, you not only need a solid stand up game, but you need to have a strong clinch game and grappling defense as well. Aldo went to war with Mark Hominick at UFC 129 to defend his title, with a possible title fight against Chad Mendes on the horizon once his injuries are healed. Aldo has expressed that he will work with Andy Souwer again, and Andy Souwer has also expressed that he’d love to train MMA with Aldo.
In the same vein, Kenny Florian has brought Cosmo Alexandre into his training camp for his Featherweight debut. Cosmo has made it clear that he is very much wanting to get into the world of MMA sometime soon, and aligning himself with Kenny Florian is a great place to start. Cosmo Alexandre is the former It’s Showtime 77MAX Champion, who only lost his title via politics when It’s Showtime was unhappy with him taking another fight close to his next title defense without their consent and he was unhappy with their contract situation. Cosmo has held multiple world Muay Thai titles and fought all over the world, generally considered one of the best Muay Thai fighters who Kickboxes in his weight class, he can provide Florian with a different approach to his Muay Thai. Florian, known for being a Mark DellaGrote Muay Thai student has learned a lot from Mark, but truth be told, training with fighters who not only currently compete, but are seen as some of the best in the world is vastly different.
What these two UFC fighters looking to some of the elite kickboxers of the world shows is that international kickboxing is gaining more respect in the United States, and elite fighters are realizing that not all stand up training is the same, to train and work with some of the most elite strikers in the world is a vastly different and rewarding experience from the same, cookie-cutter “Stand Up” training that you’ll see at your local MMA gyms across the country. I look forward to the days where more UFC fighters are talking about how incredible these fighters are that we already know are incredible.
Dave Walsh has been covering MMA and Kickboxing since 2007 before changing his focus solely to Kickboxing in 2009, launching what was the only English-language site dedicated to giving Kickboxing similar coverage to what MMA receives. He was the co-founder of HeadKickLegend and now LiverKick. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he works as a writer of all trades.
His second novel, Terminus Cycle, launches on March 24th.