A generation of hackers and nerds was inspired by “BattleBots” in the early 00s – the five-season series first aired on the unlikely network of Comedy Central and showcased garage-built robot made for one purpose: destroying each other. The action was intense, the science was awesome, and when it was cancelled in 2001 we cried a little bit.
Dry those tears, hombre: a new season of “BattleBots” just premiered on ABC to huge ratings, so if you’re not already watching, get on it every Sunday at 9PM. We sat down with UFC fighter and BattleBots commentator Kenny Florian – considered one of the best men to ever step into the Octagon and not take home a title – about this new world of robot mayhem.
How did you get hooked up with BattleBots?
The producers reached out to me and told me about the show. Immediately I remembered what it was because I had seen it in the early 2000’s and was really interested in being a part of it. I met with Chris and Aaron, the executive producers and I think we all knew it was a good fit.
What’s a typical day like in the BattleBots arena?
The energy was amazing. We had an awesome crowd that really added to the excitement. Seeing 250lbs robots battle live in front of you is an amazing experience. You really get an appreciation for what these robots can do and although we had a bulletproof box to protect us, you can’t help but duck or flinch when a chunk of mental flies in your direction at insane speeds. The whole cast and production were all amazing to work with and I truly had a blast.
What’s been your most surprising moment on the show so far?
There are many surprising moments throughout the show but seeing the legendary robot “Warhead” lose in the first round was quite a surprise. However, it shows how quickly the technology & engineering is changing in robot building. It is also a great example of how skillful the young drivers are becoming and it gets you excited about the future of this sport.
How is commentating on BattleBots different from commenting on MMA action?
As unpredictable as MMA can be, Battlebots is even more unpredictable. When you add in all the variables with the hazards of the BattleBox, the engineering difficulties, style match-ups and judges etc anything can happen in there. One mistake, one loose wire, a zig when you should’ve zagged and that could be it. It can be hard reminding yourself to breathe when your calling robot fights out there.
If you built a robot, what would be its plan of attack?
I think the aggressive modular robots are the way to go. Like MMA, the more weapons and capabilities, the better. Each robot fight is different and the way you match up against another robot is critical in this tournament format. So I would build one that would have the ability to change out weapons and tactics for each fight. For these tournaments, durability is huge as well. Solid construction, maneuverability and versatility is key. That’s how I would approach this. Being an excellent driver is so important as well so I’d be be practicing a heck of a lot.
If you could come out of retirement for one last fight, who would it be with?
Being retired I would never call out names. I’m very content watching the new breed of amazing UFC fighters out there. I will say I don’t want a part of any robots out there. I prefer my body in one piece.
BattleBots airs Sunday nights at 9PM ET on ABC.