by Al Yu for MMAWeekly.com
Coming off of a big win over Murilo “Ninja” Rua at Bushido 11, Denis Kang is considered one of the favorites to win the Bushido welterweight tournament. Advancing to the second round, Kang is scheduled to face Armenian striker Amar Suloev. Denis is looking to solidify himself as one of the world’s top middleweights in this highly anticipated fight. The American Top Team fighter took time out of his schedule to talk to MMAWeekly.
MMAWeekly: You’ll be fighting Amar Suloev at Bushido 12, how is your training going?
Denis Kang: It’s been great. This is the good thing about staying injury free, you get to go from fight to fight and your cardio overlaps with the last one. You just keep getting better and better.
MMAWeekly: Are you training with anyone specifically to help you with your opponent?
Denis Kang: My usual sparring partners: Wilson Gouveia, Jorge Santiago, Charles McCarthy, and Thiago Alves.
MMAWeekly: You moved to Florida to be closer to American Top Team. What’s it like working with those guys?
Denis Kang: I love it. There are so many good guys to push you. I feel like I’m hitting a whole new level.
MMAWeekly: What do you think of Pride’s anticipated debut in the U.S.?
Denis Kang: I can’t wait for it. I think that they definitely have a formula that will succeed in the US. This will provide healthy competition for UFC and will only benefit the fighters.
MMAWeekly: The Pride Absolute Tournament will conclude shortly after Bushido 12. Who do you think will win it all?
Denis Kang: I’m going for Fedor or the winner of Barnett/Nogueira.
MMAWeekly: MMA is on the rise in Korea and you’ve played a big part with that. Can we expect to see you fighting in Spirit MC again some time in the future?
Denis Kang: Of course! I just resigned with Spirit MC and will definitely be fighting there soon.
MMAWeekly: Who has been the biggest influence in your MMA career?
Denis Kang: I can’t just name one person because there are so many. One would be Marcus Soares. We have an incredible synergy going on when I fight and he is cornering me. All of the ATT coaches of course. I also always try and mimic the style and techniques of great champions such as Fedor, Minotauro, BJ Penn, Frank Shamrock and Matt Hughes.
MMAWeekly: There are many fans and experts who consider you a favorite to win the entire welterweight tournament. How do you respond to that?
Denis Kang: I feel honored, but I’m staying grounded. Being favored and actually doing it are two different things. I still have a lot of hard work ahead.
MMAWeekly: Of the remaining fighters in the tournament, is there a particular fighter you would like to face and which fighter do you think would give you the biggest challenge?
Denis Kang: Definitely Dan Henderson.
MMAWeekly: You are on a winning streak of 18 fights. Where do you feel you rank among the top middleweight fighters in the world?
Denis Kang: It’s not really my place to rank myself, but I feel I deserve to be among the top 10 for sure. Let’s wait until the end of this tournament and see if I can make number one!
MMAWeekly: Have you ever thought about moving up or down in weight class?
Denis Kang: Never down, I would have to cut off a limb for that! Up, I have before. It’s a little easier because I don’t have to cut any weight but I’m small for that weight class. I normally walk around at 200-205. I would definitely like to take a serious crack at it one day though.
MMAWeekly: Before your rededication to MMA, you lost a fight to Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller. Have you ever thought about seeking a rematch?
Denis Kang: Yes and No. In that fight I completely underestimated Jason and I also beat myself mentally. Him and I are friends now and have even trained together. It’s possible that we may meet in the future but I don’t think it’s on our “to do” list for either of us.
MMAWeekly: Some people have accused you of ducking a fight with Thales Leite. Could you elaborate more regarding the situation?
Denis Kang: That’s the first I heard of it. He was mentioned as one of a few potential opponents for me a few months ago in Spirit MC. They ended up choosing someone else instead. What can I do about that?
MMAWeekly: You are currently contracted with Pride Fighting Championships. How many fights do you have left on your contract? Have you ever considered fighting for another major organization like the UFC or K-1?
Denis Kang: I am with Pride for two years for at least 3-5 fights a year. Of course I would consider other reasonable offers but for the moment I’m very happy with Pride.
MMAWeekly: I would like to thank you for your time Denis. Is there anything that you would like to say to your fans?
Denis Kang: People who know me and have followed my career know how hard I have worked to get where I am. It’s been almost ten years but I feel like I’m just coming into my peak. Thank you for your support!