by Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com
Denis Kang returns to fighting after a six-month lay off to take on Gegard Mousasi in the first round of the Dream Middleweight Grand Prix. Kang, the No. 4 ranked middleweight in the world, is going to attempt to rebound from his last fight in October where he was knocked out.
“I’m training my butt off,” said Kang in a recent interview with MMAWeekly. “I’ve been training since my last fight in October, because I was under the impression I was going to fight on the Dynamite show (on New Year’s Eve), so I never stopped training.”
He has been training with Georges St. Pierre, as St. Pierre just reclaimed his UFC welterweight crown a week ago. Even though he has been training in Canada, Kang remains a member of American Top Team.
“I haven’t left American Top Team,” he explained. “I’m still part of American Top Team. They’re my family. I’m just on a temporary leave of absence in Canada because of a visa issue. I speak with ATT every day, pretty much.”
While Kang has had mixed success in the last year, he still believes he should have won his last fight against Yoshihiro Akiyama. “Man, I hate making excuses for a fight,” commented the Canadian.
“During that fight, a lot of (stuff) went wrong. Everything went well at first. As soon as I got punched in the eye, my eye closed up. It was really hard for me to formulate any offense, or any defense for that matter. I guess what I learned from that fight is to be ready for that kind of thing to happen. I don’t think I made that big of a mistake to make me completely change my game plan.”
Even though Akiyama will not join the Dream Grand Prix due to an injury, Kang still hopes he’ll get the opportunity to fight him again. “I would love to fight Akiyama. Akiyama first, and then Misaki.”
Kang has had many experiences in tournaments, so the Grand Prix will not be a big adjustment for him. In fact, he prefers tournaments. “I love tournaments. I have a lot of experience doing tournaments. I’ve been doing it since the beginning of my career starting with the Bas Rutten Invitational.”
A good amount of Kang’s fights have been overseas the last few years including Japan and Korea. Many of his fans in North America would love to see him fight on his home continent. “I would love to fight back in North America; somewhere where my friends can see me real-time or on pay-per-view. But that’s really up to my management when I’m up with Dream.”
After his contract with Dream, there are many top middleweights that Kang would like to compete against including Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight champion Anderson Silva and EliteXC’s middleweight champion Robbie Lawler. “I would love to. I wish there was a way that all organizations could work together to have some sort of Super Bowl like we thought we would get when the UFC bought Pride.”
His opponent for the opening round of the Grand Prix is Gegard Mousasi (20-2-1), who is on a seven-fight win streak. “He’s a tall guy from Holland. He’s good standing up and good on the ground,” Kang commented. “I think it’s one of those fights that I’ll have to go out there and feel.”
Now that he has drawn one of the tougher opponents in the opening round, does it have an effect on his training?
“I’m very happy because it makes me train harder. Every opponent is tough. When you know the opponent and you respect him, it motivates you to train even more. I’m glad I’m getting a tough opponent like Mousasi. It makes me feel like I have to rise up to the challenge.”
When Kang takes on Mousasi this weekend, he offered an easy prediction. “Knockout! KO, man! It’s quick and simple.”