by Brandon Corley – MMAWeekly.com
July 22nd. Ilsan, South Korea.
Today was a good day. While waiting to interview Denis Kang, the #6 middleweight in the MMAWeekly World MMA Rankings, I was treated to the latest installment of Spirit MC: Amateur League. There were 33 matches with special rules between a lot of young guys and some old ones.
Amateur League is the in-house program that allows new fighters to cut their teeth with little risk of injury. Contestants wear boxing gloves with headgear, forearm, elbow, shin, and knee pads. There are no stomps, soccer kicks, or knees on the ground allowed, and fighters are not allowed to close guard. Entertaining and almost as safe as a pillow fight.
MMA Weekly: How are the hand and bicep doing?
Kang: 100% I’m doing everything at 100%
MMA Weekly: How has the training been going?
Kang: I have been going as good as I feel. It’s difficult for me not to train hard. I love to train hard. I have been training with my teammates preparing them for their fights. When I get confirmation for my next fight I will take one week off and hit it hard again.
MMA Weekly: Have you been training with anyone that isn’t from American Top Team?
Kang: I trained with Todd Gouwenberg in Vancouver.
MMA Weekly: Can you tell us anything new about your status as a free agent?
Kang: I have been talking with Bodog and Gary Shaw. I still don’t know. I can’t say anything.
MMA Weekly: Who do you feel is #1 in the world at 185 lbs.?
Kang: Dan Henderson is #1.
MMA Weekly: Where do you rank yourself in the world?
Kang: I don’t want to seem biased. (laughs) I’m #2. Seriously, I strongly believe that. I think I can be #1 when I get a chance to prove it like Dan did.
MMA Weekly: Who do you want to fight next? Do you want to fight Misaki again?
Kang: My first choice would be Henderson. My second choice would be Misaki. That was one of my hardest fights ever. (He shows me his contorted bicep. I believe him)
MMA Weekly: How did you tear your bicep against Gono?
Kang: I threw a right hook and my first thought, when I felt it, was…I punched him too hard.
MMA Weekly: Did you ever have a fight with someone that you didn’t like?
Kang: My rematch with Andrei Semenov. He was cocky, always trying to stare me down. During the fighter presentations before the PRIDE show he was just standing there and staring at me.
MMA Weekly: Who is your favorite fighter to watch?
Kang: Fedor, Minotauro, and B.J. Penn are all my favorites. Every time I watch them I learn. It might not be a new move but I always pick up something like a grip or a small technique. I’m a student of the game. Every training session has a purpose, to make me a better fighter.
MMA Weekly: Who is your favorite Korean fighter?
Kang: Haeng-ki Kim. He’s got a good style, real aggressive and ready to scrap.
MMA Weekly: What do you think about the growth of MMA in Korea?
Kang: MMA has gotten huge over here. Like now we’re watching these young guys fighting hard in an amateur show. At first, my dad didn’t even know about MMA. Then, I came back and it was a little more popular. Now, everyone knows about it, there are schools everywhere. I think it’s because of Spirit MC. They know they have to grow fighters. Do they do it just for the money? Hell no. They want to make the fighters better.
MMA Weekly: What do you think about the fighters that have tested positive for steroid use lately?
Kang: I think if they take steroids they’re old enough to know what will happen. You know you are going to be tested.
MMA Weekly: What have you been doing with your free time lately?
Kang: Free time? (laughs, hard) I’m training all the time. I do hang out with the guys from ATT. We go clubbing and go to the beach sometimes. I went to the Miss Hawaiian Tropic pageant. That was awesome, we were like V.I.P.s. I even got to meet Mickey Rourke.