Denis Kang (31-11-1) will look to score redeem himself inside the Octagon when he takes on promotional newcomer Xavier Foupa-Pokum (20-9) at UFC 97 at The Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on April 18.
It will be a home game of sorts for the PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix 2006 runner-up -- he is a Canadian citizen despite his South Korean roots. Kang was a big acquisition for the promotion, signing a four-fight deal prior to his debut against Alan Belcher at UFC 93: "Franklin vs. Henderson" just last month.
He was a heavy favorite and started out strong; however, "The Talent" hung in and eventually sunk in a fight-ending guillotine choke on the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt in the waning seconds of round two.
Prior to the loss, Kang -- who enjoyed success primarily in Japan and Korea fighting in the Pride FC and Spirit MC organizations — was on a two-fight win streak after losing back-to-back matches. He has lost four of last seven fights dating back to late 2006.
Kang was once considered a top-ranked player in the division and a serious threat to reigning UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. He’ll need to get back in the win column sooner rather than later to earn back that reputation … and it starts with Foupa-Pokum.
A Cage Rage and Palace Fighting Championship (PFC) veteran, Foupa-Pokum is on a six-fight win streak. In fact, he has dropped just one fight in his last 12 attempts – s submission loss to Murilo "Ninja" Rua back in December 2007.
The French fighter has a nice mix of submissions and (technical) knockouts on his resume. He is definitely an experienced, capable and dangerous fighter Kang -- who needs a win bad here -- cannot underestimate.
In the UFC 97 main event, Anderson Silva will put his 185-pound title on the line against number one division contender, Thales Leites. In the co-main event, Mauricio Rua -- fresh off his less-than-thrilling victory over Mark "The Hammer" Coleman at UFC 93 --will challenge former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell.
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