UFC 97 Redemption
April 18th, 2009 7 PM
Denis Kang vs Xavier Foupa-Pokam
UFC Betting Pick: Denis Kang (-325)
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UFC Middleweight Fight: Denis Kang (-325) vs Xavier Foupa-Pokam (+250)
Professor X Xavier Foupa-Pokam (20-8) is a French Kick Boxer who will have a very tough time against Denis Kang (31-11) who is seeking redemption. Showing the first 2 rounds of Kang’s fight versus Alan Belcher to a young mixed martial arts student is the best way for him to learn to fight the perfect MMA fight. I t was pure text book.
Denis Kang fought a perfect fight in his UFC debut. He performed textbook striking, great wrestling, perfect takedowns, excellent top control grappling game. . .then he made one mistake. It seemed the UFC debut got the better of him as he shot in too high and got choked out.
Professor X has fought a who’s who in no name in mixed martial arts, and the caliber of fighters he has fought is nowhere nears Kang’s level. Professor X has lost to average fighters like Paul Daley and Martin Kampmann, and has lost to Murilo Rua whom Kang KO’ed in 15 seconds.
Professor X is a good fighter but does not have the experience in fighting top level fighters. Also, this will be his first UFC fight and he will not be used to the large stage, the crowd, and spectacle of the big show. Just look at Kang’s first UFC fight at UFC 93: Franklin vs. Henderson. He was dominating the fight and then he just ran out of gas against Alan Belcher.
Kang was prepared for the fight – he was in great shape and underwent a 2 months training camp with George St Pierre in Montréal. He was not used to the adrenaline dump that comes from fighting in the UFC for the first time. But this fight will be different. Kang has been training in Montreal and his first fight was in Ireland; the time change in flying to Ireland may have affected him.
For this fight, he will not have to acclimatize to the time change or jet lag. Foupa-Pokam will be coming over from Europe so he will be in the same situation that Kang was in. He will have the huge adrenaline dump, and he will have to travel far and make his body acclimatize to not only the time difference but also the cold Montréal weather.
Striking-wise, both fighters are about even as Kang has very fast and powerful hands while Professor X has much better kicks. Kang’s striking is very crisp and clean, and technically he is one of the best strikers in mixed martial arts. He always has his hands up, chin down and has great power. If this were a boxing match, Kang would tear him apart with technique skills and power. However, Professor X is a far better kicker. He has a Muay Thai and kickboxing background and he has very good knockout power with his legs, especially his knees. In overall stand up war, Professor X has the slight advantage.
Kang has much more MMA experience and he will know not to slug it out with Professor X. Kang has the far superior wrestling and grappling skills. If you look at his last fight with Belcher at UFC 93: Franklin vs. Henderson, his wrestling takedowns were text book. Kang is a Brazilian jujitsu black belt under Carlson Gracie’s top student Marcus Soares and his grappling game is top notch.
Xavier Foupa-Pokam can actually fight on the ground so he might be comfortable with going to the ground. Thinking he can match skill for skill will be his undoing. Xavier Foupa-Pokam has 7 victories by submission, but he is not a top level grappler and he has submitted below average fighters.
Bottom Line: Denis Kang needs the victory or he may be cut from his UFC contract. He is the more skilled fighter and is very well rounded. He can strike, he can wrestle, and he can grapple at a high level. Kang just needs to remain calm and let Foupa-Pokam make the mistakes as the latter will come into the fight with less experience and kill, and he will not be prepared for Kang and Kang’s home town crowd cheering him on. UFC sports betting -325 is too much to lay on Kang. It is not worth the price. A safer bet would be a UFC prop bet to for Kang to win this fight by submission.
Kang will wait for the perfect moment and once he shoots in for takedown and gets Professor X to the ground, he will be able to use his dominating top control game to hold Professor X with his good posture and base. Professor X is good at fighting from his back but he is loose, and if Kang can pass the guard and gain side control he will be able to submit him.
Look for Kang to redeem himself with a second round Kimura from Side Mount.
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