UFC 300: Kenny Florian Breaks Down Stacked Card Featuring Former Champions And Title Fights

Insightful analysis from Kenny Florian on the monumental UFC 300 event with top fighters and intriguing matchups.

<p>Kenny Florian, an American retired mixed martial artist and commentator. He formerly competed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). KENNY FLORIAN.</p>

Kenny Florian has shared the Octagon with some of the UFC’s most decorated champions, Sean Sherk, Jose Aldo, and BJ Penn. Through those experiences he gained a wealth of knowledge and has become one of the more insightful analysts in the sport. Florian shares his thoughts on the UFC’s milestone event, UFC 300, which will be taking centerstage April 13th from Las Vegas, Neveda’s, T-Mobile Arena. The monumental card is highlighted by two title fights and packed with former world champions competing. 


We caught up with Florian to get his astute thoughts on the stacked PPV card! 


Zenger: We hear it all of the time, this could be the greatest card in UFC history. UFC 300 may actually be the greatest card formulated on paper. 


Florian: Yes! The main card may not be the best. It’s still up there in my opinion. But the overall card absolutely is. When you have Cody Garbrandt vs. Deiveson Figueiredo as the first fight out on the early prelims, that is crazy. These are two former champions going at it, high level mixed martial arts, and you can go that way from the first fight all the way up. I think if you are a hardcore fan, you understand the skill level involved with UFC 300. I think that’s what makes it the best card of all time. The skills and the experience level of the fighters. One may not be impressed with the names, but to me, that’s not what matters, it’s the level of mixed martial arts that will be displayed at UFC 300, which makes it great. 


Zenger: We get a great mixed bag of fighters who will deliver what you are looking for. Is there a dark horse fight that is flying under the radar on the card in your opinion? 


Florian: People may not be as excited about it, but I think that Zhang Weili against Yan Xiaonan&mldr; it’s a title fight but I don’t think it’s getting the love it deserves. Everyone is talking about Gaethje and Holloway, Oliveira and Tsarukyan, and of course Jamahal Hill and Pereira. But as a title fight and a fight in general that people aren’t really talking about, I think Zhang Weili is one of the best athletes that we’ve seen compete in the UFC. She’s always better, always shows a different skillset. The way she moves&mldr; she’s one of the most impressive athletes I’ve seen compete inside the cage from an athletic perspective. And I think Yan has really improved as a striker. Her length, her skill level, her confidence now is at a different level. I think that fight is going to deliver. We tend to forget, but when we do get high level women’s mixed artists fights, they deliver. They tend to show a high level of aggression, and they tend to finish. I know it’s a title fight, but I do think that’s one that people are sleeping on. 


Zenger: What type of pressure is on Kayla Harrison to not only be making her UFC debut, but to make it on a card of the magnitude of UFC 300 against a veteran like Holly Holm? 


Florian: I think all of the pressure is going to come from Kayla Harrison herself. It’s a blessing and a curse in a lot of ways. You get these high-level athletes like Kayla who has been a two-time Gold medalist in the Olympics, a multiple time world champion outside of the UFC. She’s now coming in and facing a former world champion. A former fighter that defeated another Olympic medalist in Ronda Rousey, perhaps the biggest female name in UFC history. To a certain extent, Kayla brings in an intensity that can make her or break her at times. She has experienced enough adversity in her life and in her mixed martial arts career where I think she is at least fighting in the UFC at the right time. 

I also think she’s lucky in that there are so many great fights on this card that people may gloss over her fight a little bit. She kind of has the opportunity of sneaking in there and not being in the limelight for the first time in many years. These are things that help her. However, fighting in the UFC is a big deal. This is the best organization in the world, with the brightest and best talent in the world. There is that aspect of, I’m finally here now, can I hang with these women. I think it comes down to what kind of mentality Kayla brings in there. From the limelight standpoint, I think she is lucky that she’s blended into a card that will spread out that attention really well. I think she will deliver. I have so much respect for Kayla and what she has done. I truly believe that if she keeps working hard and developing her skills, she could be one of the best ever. 


Zenger: Jim Miller is facing Bobby Green. Can you speak on Jim Miller’s longevity? 


Florian: It’s unbelievable if he was healthy his whole career. It’s even more unbelievable that he’s been dealing with Lyme’s disease and a bunch of injuries as well. It’s a testament to his durability, his toughness, and determination. It’s defined him as a fighter. I also think Jim has been taking the right fights at the right time. He hasn’t been involved in these mismatches where he’s been sent to the slaughter. I think the UFC and him and his team has done a great job of picking the right fights at the right time where it’s challenging enough to where they aren’t mismatches in his favor or against his favor. Every time I see him, or Clay Guida compete, its mind blowing knowing that these guys are still competing well in 2024. 


Zenger: Which fighter do you feel has the most to prove at UFC 300? 


Florian: For me, it’s always interesting when a champion or former champion has to come back and reinvent himself. For Aljamain Sterling, this is his moment. Not only is he coming off of a loss, he’s coming back off of a knockout loss, and he’s coming back in a different division; a heavier division. Many feel that he is probably a more natural 145 pounder and he’s taken on a dude who is a big 145 pounder in Calvin Kattar. This is one of those where, if he wins, it would say a lot about his character coming back off of that devastating loss to [Sean] O’Malley. It would show that he is here to play with the big boys at 145. But if he loses, this could be one of those fights that could send his career in a completely different trajectory. He’s facing two losses in a row, he faced a ranked guy but not a champion, where is he going to head in that division? Where does this send him? There’s going to be a lot of question marks if he loses. This is just the nature of this sport. You can be the greatest one day and completely forgotten the next. This sport will chew you up and spit you out in a variety of ways. This is Aljamain Sterling’s moment where he has a lot to prove to the fans, to the UFC, but more importantly, to himself. 


Zenger: Justin Gaethje and Max Holloway is probably considered “Fight of the Night” for most fight fans. Any way possible we get a tactical bout? 


Florian: I don’t think it will be tactical at all. Those guys only know how to fight one way. We rarely see Gaethje in a boring fight. It just doesn’t happen. He’s a guy who is a marauder. He wants to take you out. He’s got more of a controlled aggression starting a few years ago, his coach wanted him to be a more technical and tactical brawler. But he’s still a brawler and wants to take your head off. Max Holloway is more of a boxer, but I don’t think he can help himself when guys start to fire back. It’s the Hawaiian culture, the warrior that’s in Max Holloway, he will find a way to make it a scrap. He’s not going to back down from someone like Gaethje. 


Zenger: Arman Tsarukyan against Charles Oliveira, how do you see that one going? 


Florian: It’s possible that that one becomes tactical, but again, both of those guys have such a high offensive output and are so offensively powerful, I see those guys being in a banger as well. I think the only difference from what I’ve seen so far is, Arman Tsarukyan is more defensively sound than Charles Oliveira. Oliveira has proven that if he goes on the offense, you better be ready. But when he goes on the defense, he tends to make mistakes and he can crumble. And that’s been something that has plagued him throughout his career. What has masks that the last few years, he’s become so offensively powerful that you don’t really see it. But as we saw in the Islam Makhachev fight and some other fights, he’ll get dropped or rocked, yes, he is tough and will try to battle back, but from a technically defensive perspective, he does have holes. Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard did an amazing job of putting these fights together. I don’t want to jinx it, but I can see all of these fights delivering. 


Zenger: It’s not idea to have Jamahal Hill fight Alex Pereira coming off the Achilles injury and 8-month layoff, but with modern science, anything is possible. What’s your take on the main event? 


Florian: I think Hill understands that if he gets it done, he’s gotta get it done early. I think that’s his best bet as well. I think he needs to get in Pereira’s face and try to make it a short-range fight. Make it a boxing fight. I think that’s where he has his advantage. I’m not sure he hits as hard as Pereira, but I do think he’s going to be faster; he throws tighter punches than Pereira, and I think there’s more soundness to his overall game in the boxing range. Where he’s going to have trouble is dealing with the length and the leg kicks, especially after that Achilles injury. My brother came back from an Achilles injury, and it took him years to get back to normal again. I’ve seen a lot of other guys, when they tear their Achilles, it leads to other issues. It’s not an easy injury to come back from. I think technology is further along. I think Jamahal Hill is an exceptional athlete. I’m sure he’s done all the rehab work to get back as quickly as possible, but even being healthy and having to deal with Pereira’s leg kicks is tough, especially calf kicks. I think early on Jamahal Hill is the favorite. After it moves past round two or three is where Pereira can take over. It’s going to be interesting. I expect fireworks. I would be very surprised if this one goes to a decision. I see one of these guys getting the finish.