By Ken Pishna, MMAWeekly.com
He hasn’t lost in his last 13 fights. He has made the move to one of the most elite fight teams in the world. He stepped up to the bright lights of Pride’s Bushido show and tapped out his opponent in less than five minutes. In short, after seven long years, Denis Kang is finally getting his shot and he’s ready.
Fighting on this weekend’s Pride Bushido 8 card, Kang will step into the ring with Andrei Semenov. The two fought once before on Semenov’s home turf in the M-1 Mix-Fight promotion. After one ten-minute round, the fight was ruled a draw.
So why will this fight be any different? “This fight will be different simply because I have evolved so much since the last time we met,” commented Kang. “I don’t think he has been training as hard as I have since our [first] fight. I think he trained hard for Prangley and for the M1 tourney, but apart from that he was probably just doing minimal maintenance and taking easy fights. The thing with me is no matter who I fight, I train like I’m fighting the best.”
One thing that Kang has changed up over the past year has been his switch from training full time in Canada to making the move down to Florida and training with American Top Team. The ATT fight team that includes the likes of Din Thomas, Marcus Aurelio (who is also fighting at Bushido 8), Endson Diniz, Dustin Denes, Aaron Riley and more.
Commenting on his newfound training with ATT, Kang couldn’t say enough, “ATT has helped me in every aspect of my training. The sparring partners are top notch and the training sessions get quite intense. I get great coaching in BJJ, boxing and wrestling. Now with the addition of Andrei “Benkei” Aurnheimer working on speed and conditioning, I feel very confident. I think this will definitely make a difference in the fight in the sense that I will be more physical than the last time.”
Obviously, the move up from second-tier shows to Pride brings with it tremendous rewards, but asked if he felt like taking that step up has changed his outlook on fighting, Kang was pragmatic, “A lot of people ask me that same question, but it’s still just a fight to me. Yes it’s Pride, yes it’s a big crowd, but it is still the same job for me in the ring.”
Of course, the luxury of being under contract is another nice side effect of fighting for one of the largest organizations in the world. “We signed for three fights, of which this will be the second,” says Kang. And with the advent of Pride’s new 83-kilogram (182.6-pound) weight class, he was short but sweet when asked about his future in Pride, “I can answer that one in two words: GRAND PRIX! If I beat Semenov, I’m in the Grand Prix.”
Not to lose focus, Kang had this to say about the fight at hand, “We both know what to expect form each other. I think it’s going to be a very competitive match and I hope to win this one by submission for ATT.” With Bushido 8 only days away, we’ll soon find out if Kang will indeed move on to the next Pride Grand Prix.