Denis Kang handed a quick defeat to Murilo "Ninja" Rua at the PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix 2006 Opening Round held at Saitama Arena on June 4th, proving the he is a contender for the Championship title. Kang may hunt his opponents down in the ring like a Cyborg but out of the ring, he is a gracious young man that sat down to do an exclusive interview with PRIDE.




Pride Fighting Championships: How did you spend your night following the fight (with Rua)?
Denis Kang: [Opening his arms widely] I ate a bowl of udon this big, a crepe with ice cream on in and then went right to sleep.
Pride: Is there someone that you always eat after your fights?
Kang: I eat whatever I want to eat at that time. In Japan, it's udon and curry. When I go back to America, it's barbeque.
Pride: After you won your fight against Ninja, who did you tell first?
Kang: I called my friends and family. I talked about the fighter with my mother but she was worried more about Ninja than me! She said that I must have really beaten him up, not just hit him 2 or 3 times. [laughing]
Pride: Does your mother ever come to watch your fights?
Kang: She comes to the events sometimes but she's basically a pacifist. So, she doesn't want to see her son beat up his opponent and I do my best not to show her. Like my last fight with Mark Weir, I beat him up and made him bleed, so there's no way I can show that to her. [laughing]
Pride: Okay. Please tell me about the fight. You destroyed Ninja in seconds in your Opening Round bout. Did you expect the fight to unfold like that?
Kang: I never think about going to the decision in any of my fights, including the last one, because this is a real war. However, looking at Ninja's past record, he's been able to take Henderson, Jackson, Filho and Arona to the decision, and I knew that our fight might go to decision. So that's why I think I'm lucky that the fight ended so quickly.
Pride: Looking at your fights, it seems as if you flip some switch and go straight at your opponents when the fight starts. What is your mental state during the fight?
Kang: I get very nervous on the morning of the fight and begin to doubt myself. Once I get on the bus, put my headphones on and listen to music, the switch flips and I can suddenly concentrate on the fight. Thanks to that, my warming-up is perfect and I was able to relax while I fought. I think I probably would have beaten anyone on that day.
Pride: Does that switch normally turn on when you get on the bus, even for ordinary fights?
Kang: I can always concentrate on the fight in the 2 or 3 days leading up but this was the first time for me to be that nervous. I guess it was because it's the Opening Round of a tournament. I just wanted to get rid of that nervous feeling and by trying to concentrate on the fight, I was able to flip that mental switch.
Pride: Defeating a tough opponent like Ninja under such conditions must have given you a lot of momentum towards winning the entire tournament.
Kang: Of course! This experience gave me a lot of momentum and I will probably be able to fight in the Second Round more easily because of it. I don't think there will be a tougher fight than that one (with Ninja).
Pride: Have you become certain that you will win the tournament?
Kang: I can't say for certain but because of my win over Ninja, I think that I proved to myself and the people around me that I have the potential to become the Champion.
Pride: Let me ask about your profile. You were born in France, weren't you?
Kang: I was born in France and lived there until I was 9. Then I lived in Spain for 1 year and moved to Canada when I was 11. I lived in Canada for 17 years and now I live in Florida so I can train with American Top Team.
Pride: Did you begin training in martial arts when you were lived in France?
Kang: Yes. I was interested in martial arts from a young age and Bruce Lee was my idol. I lived in a small town at the time and the only martial arts I could learn there was judo, so I began studying judo.
Pride: Did you imitate Bruce Lee at your judo dojo?
Kang: A little. Children like to imitate people and judo and karate and Bruce Lee were all the same thing. [laughing]
Pride: When did you start doing striking?
Kang: I did tae kwon do when I was in Spain and I tried kyokushin karate a little after I moved to Canada. I wrestled in High School rather than do striking and I began hapkido when I was 18. Hapkido's punches are similar to boxing so I began kickboxing when I was 20 while I was still doing hapkido. I began kickboxing so I could fight in mixed martial arts, though, and I only trained a little before my fights. I've only gotten serious about kickboxing over these past 4 years.
Pride: Your punching form is very nice. Do you think that is the result of training karate and hapkido in the past?
Kang: Really? My kicks just naturally come out in practice and fights but regarding my punches, I still don't feel comfortable with them and I feel like I miss some when I punch. So, I'm still not satisfied at all with my punches.
Pride: Are you ever going to show us some moves like Bruce Lee's?
Kang: [laughing] I'd like to do some jump kicks like Bruce Lee would do. [laughing]