By Kelsey Mowatt, photo courtesy American Top Team
South Korean MMA fans will soon get their first opportunity since 2008 to watch Denis Kang fight live and in person, as the veteran middleweight recently confirmed that he has signed a multi-fight agreement with Korea Fighting Championship. On account of Kang’s Korean ancestry and enormous popularity in the Asian nation, the news that the veteran fighter has been signed by the upstart Korean promotion, is far from surprising.
“It didn’t really come out of nowhere,” Kang told FCF recently while discussing the signing. “I’ve heard of them before and we’ve been contacting each other emails and stuff like that; one thing led to another and it seemed like a good company to work with.”
Although Korea FC has not held an event since May, 2008, it sounds like the UFC and Pride veteran is set to be one of the promotion’s key players in a busy 2011.
“It should be a main event and my first fight is going to be in April or May they said,” Kang said when asked about what plans Korea FC has for him. “They're also planning on doing a reality show, which I guess will be similar to the Ultimate Fighter, and I’ll probably be part of that as well.”
“I’m really happy,” Kang added. “I haven’t been to Korea in a really long time you know? Obviously if I didn’t like these guys and if it wasn’t a favorable deal I wouldn’t have gone for it. We had successful negotiations and they seem to have a strong vision of where they want to go promoting in Korea, so we’ll see.”
Back in 2004, Kang’s path to Japan’s Pride organization was in part made through competing for South Korea’s Spirit MC, when the BJJ black belt won seven straight fights under the company’s banner. Kang returned to Spirit MC in 2008, and knocked out Jae Young Kim at the promotion’s 18th event, before moving on to the UFC. While the majority of the 33 year-old veteran’s bouts in that nation have come against Korean fighters, Kang reports that Korea FC may look abroad to recruit his next opponents.
“I know they want to do something like a grand-prix, like Pride used to do, and bring in some Japanese opponents” Kang said. “Maybe someone like Kazuo Misaki or someone like that.”
Before Kang (33-13-2) makes his South Korean return, however, he will first take on former TUF competitor Jesse Taylor at Battlefield Fight League’s upcoming March 26th event in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Taylor (17-6) continued to be a busy fighter in 2010, scoring wins over UFC vets Jason Day and Murilo Bustamante, with additional victories coming against Tom Watson and Dylan Andrews.
“He’s tough,” said Kang, who hasn’t fought since last July when he battled Paulo Filho to a draw at Impact FC 2 in Sydney, Australia. “We’ve run into each other a few times; we fought together in Australia and I cornered my friend Tom Watson when Jesse beat him. I know what he’s about and he’s definitely not someone to take lightly. I’ll be ready for him.”
While Kang acknowledges that Taylor’s developed wrestling skills have been the foundation for much of the 27 year-old fighter’s MMA successes to date, he’s been around the game long enough to know that anything can happen come March 26th.
“His wrestling is definitely his bread and butter; he tries to do the same thing pretty much every fight, but every fight is different,” said Kang. “He may come in and try to surprise me. Maybe he’s been working on his stand-up this entire time. I don’t change my training for a specific opponent. I train everything as I usually do, so regardless of what he comes to do, I’ll be ready.”