Denis Kang (right) earned a hard-fought win at Road FC 2. | Photo: Greg Samborski
SEOUL -- “He is a tough kid who came to fight,” Denis Kang said after his victory. “Everyone was telling me how quickly they expected me to win, but everyone is tough now days.”
Friday night at the Grand Hilton Hotel Convention Centre, Kang earned a unanimous decision over fellow Pride Fighting Championships veteran Eun Soo Lee in the headliner of Road FC 2 “Alive.”
The bout saw virtually no clinch work but plenty of indecisive referee intervention. Three rounds and three yellow cards later, Kang eked out the decision win.
During the first round, Kang and his corner repeatedly complained of punches to the back of the head from Lee. Almost as if in response to a command, the referee stopped the fight, issued the first yellow card to Lee and then inexplicably resumed the fight standing.
“By the end of the first, I knew he wasn’t going to shoot, so I wasn’t falling for his feints anymore,” said Kang post-fight. “I was able to adjust my game plan accordingly.”
In the third, again there was a stoppage followed by dead time, during which neither fighter was sure if he should re-engage. In this instance, a bizarre double-yellow was issued: one to Lee for more punches to the back of the head and one to Kang for more complaining about punches to the back of the head.
In the end, Kang took home the unanimous decision, and Lee’s request for an immediate rematch was accepted by Kang, provided that the rematch is fought at his natural weight of 185 pounds.
Though Road FC does provide hope for much of Korea’s vast sub-middleweight talent pool in the wake of Spirit MC, the Achilles’ heel of Korean MMA remains: no big fighters. When Kang was racking up a 6-1 record as a middleweight in Pride, he was the heavyweight champion in Sprit MC. Road Fighting Championship may have filled the Grand Hilton Convention Center at $50 a ticket and secured a television contract with the cable network XTM, but the promotion lacks top-tier talent above welterweight
“That was a tough fight at 205 pounds,” added Kang. “But now that I made it though, 185 pounds is my best weight and that’s where I’m going to stay.”
The lightweight co-main event came to an abrupt end, as Neo Fight champion Doo Won Seo stopped Japan’s Satoshi Nishino early.
Seo dropped Nishino quickly with a debilitating middle kick. Subsequent pounding quickly opened a cut over Nishino’s left eye and the cageside doctor deemed him unable to continue just 53 seconds into the first round. With the victory, Seo expands his win streak to four straight.
It was Korea-versus-Japan in a lightweight contest that played out like a highlight reel of defensive skills, as Koji Ando faced Team Posse’s Woo Sung Yu.
Early on, the most notable action in this fight was on the part of referee, as he decided to re-stand the fighters midway through round two, this while Koji had taken Yu’s back and was fighting for the rear-naked choke with a solid body triangle in place. Justly, it was a late third-round push on the part of Koji that brought home the unanimous decision.
In one of the most highly publicized bouts of the event, featherweight Bae Young Kwon tapped Busan Team M.A.D. standout and Korean reality show “Go! Super Korean” Season 3 winner Kyung Ho Kang. Both connected with power shots in the opening minutes, with Kang landing knees and straight rights to inflict the more telling damage, but it was the Team Posse fighter Kwon who sealed the fight at 4:05 of the first round with a textbook armbar to triangle-armbar.
Bantamweights Min Jung Song and Jae Hoon Moon were the stars of the undercard. In a back-and-fourth contest in which both fighters were dropped numerous times, Song the standup exchanges with late-round takedowns on the visibly winded Moon.
Though he got the worst of the standup action, Song’s ability to achieve full mount late in two of the three rounds ultimately earned him the unanimous nod.
In his first action since knocking out Ryo Chonan in April 2010, welterweight Jung Hwan Cha won a unanimous decision over Jeong Gyo Park.
Soo Chul Kim, 19, took a unanimous verdict over Sengoku Raiden Championship veteran Jae Hyun So in a bantamweight affair, while at featherweight, another SRC vet, Shoko Sato, earned a decision of his own over Young Bok Gil.
Ji Hoon Kim earned a three-round unanimous nod over Japanese veteran Junpei Hamada in light heavyweight action.
In welterweight action, Seok Mo Kim forced Hwi Kyu Kim to tap to a kimura at 2:36 of the second round.