by John Evans – MMAWeekly.com
Denis Kang – the “Super Korean” – speaks about his fight with Yoshihiro Akiyama, his contract with K-1 Hero’s and the future of Korean MMA.
MMAWeekly: How are you feeling since the fight with Akiyama?
Denis Kang: I’m fine. I’m taking a week off from running or anything like that and I’m not going to spar for a few weeks because I’m pretty sure I had a concussion. I had some memory loss, but other than that I’m fine. I’m ready to start training for whatever comes next; hopefully it will be Dec. 31.
MMAWeekly: Can you take me through the fight?
Denis Kang: Everything was going really well. I was backing him up. I could see his low kicks coming and I could see his jabs and other punches coming and I was tagging him – I don’t want to say at will, but I wasn’t having much trouble finding my range.
There came a point where we were trading jabs. I jabbed, he jabbed. His jab landed right on my eye and I basically lost all of my depth perception from that point forward, and it was really hard for me to gauge distance to where I was almost seeing double. Things were really blurry and I thought to myself, I can’t keep backing him up like this because I can’t tell if I’m getting too close or not. So I started trying to back up myself to lure him into a big shot because I knew I couldn’t keep things going like that much longer.
Eventually he caught me with that right uppercut when I was weaving and bobbing, and that was it. I woke up about two seconds later.
MMAWeekly: You were breathing out of your mouth. Did the shot in the nose hurt you at all?
Denis Kang: The shot in the nose was nothing. The eye is what did it. I think it must have scratched the retina or something. The shot in the nose was just a minor nuisance – just a scrape on the top of my nose that was bleeding, not a broken nose. It might have given him confidence because he saw me blinking. I was just trying to blink, repeatedly, because sometimes the vision comes back when you do that.
MMAWeekly: So you will be competing in another K-1 Hero’s before you defend your heavyweight title against Ryuichi Murata in Spirit MC.
Denis Kang: Yeah, Murata won the tournament, so I’ll be facing him sometime next year.
MMAWeekly: Any idea who you will be facing in Hero’s?
Denis Kang: That should be Dec. 31 and I have no idea. I don’t even think they know yet. (laughs)
MMAWeekly: How did you get started with Spirit MC?
Denis Kang: It was through a friend of a friend who had gone over to Korea to do some business with them. He got a video tape of Spirit MC and when he got back here to Vancouver he mentioned it to me. Then we contacted them. Actually, at first it was paying almost nothing. We had to pay our own airfare. A lot of people were telling me not to do it – saying I was taking a step back by fighting in a small show like this. But I wanted to fight in front of my father.
MMAWeekly: Do you think they are going to be able to attract top-level fighters from outside Korea in the future?
Denis Kang: I think so. They’re partnered up with EliteXC now. They’ve got access to a lot more capital and many more fighters. I think it’s a good way for them to grow.
MMAWeekly: What do you see for the future of Korean MMA as a whole?
Denis Kang: I think they are going to be a force to be reckoned with. I think we are going to see really good fighters at the small weight classes, like at 145 or 155 (pounds). At the heavier weights, they’re still good – like at 170, 185, 205 and heavyweight – there’s just a smaller talent pool to draw from. These guys on Go Super Korean (a Korean MMA reality show, much like “The Ultimate Fighter”), they’ve just got so much heart, so much desire…
MMAWeekly: Who wins, Kwang (Kwang Hee Lee) or Mr. Perfect (Kyeong Ho Kang)?
Denis Kang: (laughs) Kwang Hee Lee, I like the crazy style. That’s a tough one to call, actually. They call him Mr. Perfect because he’s close to perfect, a pretty damn good fighter. It’ll be a tough fight.
MMAWeekly: Contracts have been in the news a lot lately, so I’ve got to ask you why K-1 Hero’s? What did you see from other promotions like Bodog and Ultimate Fighting Championship?
Denis Kang: They all had comparable offers, but some of them had different clauses that kept you tied down to their particular organization, which is exactly what I didn’t want. I wanted the freedom to compete in Spirit MC at least once a year. I didn’t mean that I wanted to compete in every other show out there, just Spirit MC, which isn’t really a competitor for those other organizations, except in the Korean market. I didn’t see why it should be such a big deal. K-1 was the only one gracious enough to accept that term, so I went with them.
MMAWeekly: K-1 Hero’s recently played on XTM (a Korean network television station) again during prime time and I’m sure it played in Japan as well. Here in Korea, next to Choi Hong Man, you are probably the most well-known figure in fighting sports, but you’re not getting that kind of exposure in North America.
Denis Kang: You’re right; I’ve been blessed in Korea. In North America it’s been harder, quite honestly, because I don’t fight over here. People are not exposed to me; they don’t know who Denis Kang is unless they are a hard-core fight fan or they’ve watched me on YouTube or bought my DVD. I think that’s going to change one day when I make the crossover to the U.S. market to compete, but right now I’m very happy doing my thing in Korea and Japan. Maybe someday down the road – there are a lot of things I’d like to do if the circumstances are right. I mean who knew that Pride would be going under?
MMAWeekly: Denis, thank you for your time.
Denis Kang: I want to let (fans) know that the fight didn’t go my way last time and that I’m bogged down, but I’m not out. I’m still here and I’m still training hard and I’m motivated to come back stronger than ever.