by Brian Lopez-Benchimol – MMAWeekly.com
A lot is to be said of Denis Kang. His career spans over 10 years and, in that time frame, he’s accomplished more things than most fighters could hope for.
With over 40 professional bouts to his credit, the Canadian native has consistently competed amongst the best in his weight class, staking claim as a Top 10 caliber fighter, with victories over Murilo “Ninja” Rua, Akihiro Gono, and Amar Suloev, among others in his near 18-month stint with the now defunct Pride Fighting Championships.
After back-to-back losses to Yoshihiro Akiyama and Gegard Mousasi, the Spirit MC heavyweight champion appeared back in form with two consecutive knockout victories over Jae Young Kim and Marvin Eastman inside of the first round.
Initially considering a slot on the UFCs’ first installment of The Ultimate Fighter, Kang turned down the offer, but with hopes of always returning back to the promotion in the foreseeable future. His dream became a reality when he made his debut this past January at UFC 93 against rising prospect Alan Belcher. Although Kang was not able to pick up the victory in his debut, he made a quick turn around and was right back in action with a shutout victory over Xavier Foupa-Pokam, winning each round on the judges’ scorecards.
“It feels really good. It feels like I’ve gotten that first win out of the way so to speak and now I can just concentrate on being a dominant force in (the middleweight) division,” he explained while a guest recently on MMAWeekly Radio.
After a considerable amount of hype on Kang’s initial move to the UFC, there were a lot of expectations of him being a crushing force in the middleweight division, becoming an immediate challenger to Anderson Silva’s title. However, it’s those same expectations that have taught him a lesson in defeat.
“What I realized was that I focus too much on things outside of the fight itself, on people’s expectations of me, on expectations of myself, and (I should) just concentrate on fighting the good clean fights instead of trying to go to a fight with a crazy bang; fight too hard.”
Now with the win under his belt, the Vancouver turned Montreal native was able to relish in the victory in front of another ruckus sold-out crowd in his own backyard.
“It was incredible. Fighting in my hometown was cool, but getting the ‘W’ in Canada in front of what is now my hometown (Montreal) because I live here now, was really neat. I had a lot of people I knew watching, a lot of people came from my other hometown in Vancouver to watch me fight, so it was really cool to represent.”
Now settling into his own, Kang is ready to fulfill those expectations with another commanding performance over a quality opponent. With four fights within the past nine months, he is eager to have some time off to relax and hone his skills to be back in the Octagon, better than ever.
“I need to take a little bit of a break because I just fought two big fights back-to-back. It’s not the fights that wear on you; it’s the training. I need to take a little time off to rest my body and we’ll see who’s going to be next. I know I’m not in line for a title shot yet, but there’s a couple of other 185ers who got wins that night (UFC 97) so maybe the UFC will line me up with that, but I do need a little break.”