Kang no stranger to setbacks
Story by Andreas Hale
Dennis Kang is no stranger to overcoming setbacks. The man also known as the “Super Korean” has dealt with numerous stalling points in his career only to rebound and come back more impressive than ever. After losing his UFC debut – in which he was dominating Alan Belcher before getting tapped via guillotine choke – Kang is looking to make a comeback against Xavier Foupa-Pokam at UFC 97 in Montreal, Canada.
For Kang, a setback is nothing to lose your cool about. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt started his mixed martial arts career with a paltry 7-7 record before kicking it into high gear and going 18-0-1 with one no contest while becoming Sprint MC Heavyweight Champion and becoming a dominating force in PRIDE from 2003-2006.
“A lot of it is really taking a professional approach to my training,” Kang reflects on what went wrong early on in his career. “I really didn’t know how to train for a fight. It was just more of a hobby for me. I really had to learn piece by piece. How to train, enhance my conditioning and getting different coaches for different things.”
There was even a time where the Super Korean considered hanging it up.
“There were a few times where I was discouraged after losing that I can remember. In the beginning I really wasn’t making a lot of money,” Kang says. “Not only was I broke, but I’m also losing. I didn’t feel that I was that proficient or that skillful. It’s like a double edge sword. On one end I get cut because I’m not making any money and on the other end I’m losing. It was really hard. I had to dig deep and struggle just to keep my faith in the sport and myself.”
After digging deep, Kang found his place in MMA as he rolled through his competition with impressive wins over the likes of Murilo Rua, Mark Weir and Marvin Eastman. As Kang recalls his most impressive victory, it wouldn’t be one that ended in dramatic fashion. Rather, it would be a fight that went the distance.
“My most impressive victory would be when I fought Andre Seminov in my second fight in PRIDE because I beat him by decision and I broke my hand,” Kang says. “I broke it early on and I had to essentially win with one hand. Even though it was hurting I kept working around the injury.”
When finally making his debut in the UFC in January, Kang faced another setback when he got caught with a guillotine choke by Alan Belcher after looking very impressive through the first two rounds.
“I got a little overzealous in the first round and I got a little winded which led to me taking a sloppy lazy shot which he capitalized on,” Kang states.
Now, Kang will get his opportunity to welcome a new fighter into the UFC by the name of Xavier Foupa-Pokam in his hometown of Montreal.
“I just know he’s got a lot of fights,” he says of his Middleweight opponent. “I know that he’s primarily a stand up fighter with a few submission wins. If it goes to the ground I think the advantage will be for me for sure. (But) I don’t think that I have any disadvantages against him standing up.”
“I’m really going to play to the fact that in this fight I’ll be the one welcoming him into the UFC,” Kang continues. “I think he’ll have a lot more pressure than I will. He’ll also be in my hometown of Montreal. I will have the crowd behind me. I think that the longer the fight goes, it should be in my favor and that’s what I’m planning on.”