Kenny Florian moving down in weight

Updated: February 8, 2011, 12:30 AM ET
By Franklin McNeil | ESPN.com

UFC contender Kenny Florian told ESPN.com on Monday that he is taking himself out of the lightweight mix for now and moving down to featherweight.

Florian, who serves as an analyst on ESPN's 'MMA Live' has a professional record of 14-5-0. In his most recent bout, he suffered a unanimous decision loss to Gray Maynard in August 2010 at UFC 118.

After that loss, there was talk of featherweight champion Jose Aldo possibly moving to lightweight. UFC representatives then contacted Florian's manager Malki Kawa to gauge interest in facing Aldo.

Shortly thereafter, Aldo decided to remain at 145 pounds. But the idea of Florian fighting Aldo continued to intrigue Kawa, who approached his fighter with the idea of moving down.

"Like [UFC president] Dana White, I like to make big fights," Kawa. "And a fight with Aldo has been sticking in the back of my head since the UFC asked us for it.

"If there is a way to make it happen, I want to. If it looks like the only way that fight can happen is if Kenny moves down to 145, that's what we're going to do."

Florian immediately warmed to the idea of moving to 145, but did not fully embrace it until receiving assurance from his nutritionists that the cut was possible.

"I started playing around with the idea: could I make 145? Originally, I didn't think it was possible," Florian. "I spoke with a few nutritionists, got their opinions, told them what my body fat was, my walking-around weight, all that stuff and the general consensus was that it was very possible.

"I put a lot of thought into it, spoke with my coaches and everybody involved and decided that I am going to try it. I'm going to go for it."

At 34 years old, Florian remains focused solely on becoming a UFC champion. He has come up short in two previous title opportunities, and his hopes of a third shot evaporated with the loss to Maynard.

Kawa is confident that Florian, who is ranked among the top 10 lightweights, will get a title shot at 145 sooner rather than later. But Kawa knows his fighter will have to prove himself first.

Florian, who suffered a knee injury that forced him off a Jan. 22 card, is expected return to action in the summer.

"He's not going to get a title shot at 145 directly," Kawa said. "We're asking for a top guy, and then maybe after one or two more fights, he can get a title shot.

"He should be ready to make his 145-pound debut in June or July. He has been cleared to start training this week."

Florian said he has the full support of UFC decision-makers. He is excited to compete at 145 pounds, but another run at the lightweight title remains part of his future plans.

The possibility of becoming a two-division champion has taken Florian's motivation to new heights.

"[The UFC] is very supportive," Florian said. "They're very excited about the move. I've spoken to [UFC president] Dana White, [matchmakers] Joe Silva and Sean Shelby -- they're all excited. And I'm excited. I'm very motivated.

"For me it's first things first. My goal is to get the 145-pound belt, and then go up to 155 and challenge for that belt as well."

Franklin McNeil covers mixed martial arts and boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Franklin_McNeil.