by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
“Adversity is the driving force in our lives; you never hear of a hero who didn’t have a nemesis, you never hear of a great person who didn’t have a challenge to rise against. Ultimately, we are products of our experiences. Without adversity, we have no reason to become better, stronger, or smarter; we are forged and tempered by the challenges that we endure.” – Patrick James

Coming off of two impressive wins over Murilo “Ninja” Rua and Amar Suloev, Denis Kang was considered one of the favorites to win the entire Pride welterweight Grand Prix. However, the road to the welterweight crown has not been easy for the American Top Team fighter. On Sept. 24th, Kang’s fiancé Shelby Walker suddenly passed away.

“Any death is hard but you have to accept it for what it is…a part of life. I kept myself busy and focused with training and surrounding myself with my ATT family,” said Kang. “I had help from Marcus Soares and Bill Mahood as well.”

Everyone deals with pain differently. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt looked to his friends and focused on training to help him through a difficult time. After enduring the tragedy, many fans speculated if Kang would pull out of his fight in November. The answer was…

“No. I went back to training the next day but it was the hardest thing ever. If I hadn’t trained it probably would have been even harder,” explained Kang. “My training actually went great despite the circumstances. I am happy with my preparation.”

Denis is scheduled to face popular Team Grabaka fighter Akihiro Gono in the semi-finals of the welterweight Grand Prix. Kang commented about his upcoming opponent.

“I think it will be a contrast of styles. He [Gono] fights a little slower than I do,” said Kang. “Let’s see if he can handle my pace.”

Assuming Kang defeats Gono, he will face the winner between Kazuo Misaki and Paulo Filho. When asked who he wanted to meet in the finals, Denis answered, “I would rather face Misaki, but I am ready for both of them.”

There’s never been a great person without adversity. Life is sometimes a test; a test of one’s devotion and ability to overcome hardship. Fighting through the pain and tears, Denis Kang remains focused on the challenge ahead of him.

“Thanks to everyone for helping me out through my hard times. I never felt alone and it made it a lot easier.”