In this ESPN.com blog, UFC contender Kenny Florian, who challenges champion Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight championship at UFC 136, breaks down just how he will leave the Octagon with the belt on Saturday.
They say Jose Aldo is one of the top three pound-for-pound fighters in the world, but, with days to go until we touch gloves and fight, I'm not listening to anything the so-called experts are saying. I don't care if Aldo is the No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. All that stuff means absolutely nothing to me right now and it will mean even less when we both step into the Octagon on Saturday at UFC 136.
Nobody will remember any of that talk when the bell sounds and we step toward each other. It will just be him and me in the cage and all else will be forgotten. He can't bring his belt, his ranking or his fans with him at that moment. It will just be my skills against his, and may the best man win.
Despite this, I respect Aldo's skills massively and was mightily impressed by his win over Hominick. The way he threw his combinations was so fluid. Aside from the last round, I think Aldo really dominated that fight and showed a bit of everything in there. He really went through his entire repertoire on Hominick, and Hominick is no slouch, by the way. He is a very good fighter in his own right.
I am a genuine fan of Jose Aldo. Although we're now fighting each other, I still consider him a great fighter and one of the future stars of this sport. We have to go to battle on Saturday night, but it's all business as far as I'm concerned. This is what we are born to do.
Based on what I've seen, and based on who he has beaten, Aldo definitely deserves his pound-for-pound tag. He is clearly one of the best fighters in the world right now, regardless of weight. He is super talented and has, to date, been super dominant as a featherweight. You can't possibly knock the guy. He has done everything that has been asked of him so far in his career.
All things considered, I definitely think that Aldo is going to be the most difficult test of my career. His speed, movement and explosiveness will be streets ahead of anything I have seen in the cage so far in my career. I know that, I anticipate that and I am able to deal with the reality of the situation. I am not going into this fight underestimating the current featherweight champion. That would be a foolish thing to do. He's a very, very dangerous fighter right now.
However, I now feel I am experienced and mature enough now to test him like nobody else has been able to. I think I can ask him serious questions in all ranges of combat. I'm not going to be intimidated by his title or his reputation, as I've seen it all before. I've watched him fight, I've studied him and I know exactly what he can and can't do. I know he's a tremendous fighter with great qualities, so nothing will surprise me on Saturday night. I am prepared for it all. I've been there before, I've been in big fights, and I don't feel Aldo has fought anybody like me before. I don't think he has been put up against anybody as strong and well-rounded as I am.
I'd be lying if I said winning the UFC world championship hasn't been a dream of mine for many years. That is a dream that every fighter in this sport has had at some stage and I am no different. I've worked so hard to get to where I am right now and the title is there for the taking this Saturday night. I'm sure it will be an amazing feeling when the time finally arrives. I know I'm capable of doing it and I pinch myself from time to time when recalling it all started with “The Ultimate Fighter” back in 2005.
On Saturday night I visualize a fast-paced, all-out war between two guys unwilling to take a backward step. From first round to last round, I can only see this fight being a grueling scrap and one that takes in all areas of the Octagon. There won't be a space on that Octagon floor that we won't both tread at some stage. I expect to be bruised and bloodied up at the end of it all, but I also expect my hand to be raised.
Visit kennyflorian.com and @kennyflorian for more information on Kenny "KenFlo" Florian, top featherweight contender and former two-time lightweight title challenger