Boston, MA -- On Saturday, Ultimate Fighting Championship superstar and Massachusetts-native Kenny Florian (15-4, 3 KOs) will be taking over the TD Garden to do battle with the undefeated lightweight Gray Maynard during UCF 118.
In preparation for his rumble in The Octagon, Florian, who attended Boston College and played soccer for the Eagles, stopped by the usual stomping grounds of Boston Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton to carry out a little recon before going toe-to-toe with Maynard at the Garden.
Thornton gave his fellow fighter a tour of his new domain in an effort to get Florian more familiar with the surroundings on Causeway Street.
"This is amazing," Florian said while looking around at the empty Garden from the parquet floor to the boards of the rink.
"This is going to be a great arena. Perfect for a fight."
While talking with Florian, Thornton mentioned the level of respect he has for the fighters of the UFC because of the grit it takes to last in The Octagon.
"I don't have the mentality or the capacity to do it," Thornton said after Florian described his week before the fight, including the fact that he must lose over 14 pounds to make weight for his lightweight bout.
Thornton, a strong enforcer around the rinks of the NHL, said he has no intention of switching leagues and joining the UFC.
"Not a chance," said Thornton with a laugh when asked if he would consider a career change.
Since Thornton now considers himself a Bostonian, it only seems right that these two tough guys would come together before the big UFC fight on Saturday.
Florian, the #6-ranked lightweight in the world, who fights out of Brookline, expressed his excitement to finally get a "home fight" in Boston.
"Boston has a rich boxing history and a rich combat sports history," the lightweight said. "It's one of the most passionate sports cities in the world and to have the fight here, I think it's a perfect fit."
Florian also said that although he is excited to fight in front of friends and family near home, he has to keep his emotions in check prior to the fight to ensure he gives the proper attention to his opponent.
"Sometimes before a fight I get really emotional and really pumped up -- sometimes I wouldn't have the best performances. Sometimes I would be too laid back," Florian said. "Now, it seems I don't even think about it."
"When it's time to fight you know just when to turn it on. For my sport I guess it's the motivation to see the guy across from you in the cage… that's enough motivation to get you fired up."
To purchase tickets for Saturday night's UFC 118 at the TD Garden, please click here ›.
--- Brian Smith and Abigail Seaver