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Denis Kang UFC Deal Sunk Over Exclusivity

Just as the UFC couldn’t come to terms with Fedor Emelianenko partly because they wouldn’t allow him to compete in the Sambo tournaments that he periodically steamrolls through, a deal with top 10 middleweight and ATT member Denis Kang was also nixed over an equally minor request for competitive freedom. As MMAJunkie reports:

“Yes, we were (negotiating with the UFC),” Kang said. “I would have loved to fight in the UFC. I would love to fight in North America and not have to travel 12 hours for a change. At the end of the day, it came down to where I want to be represented at the moment and who was offering the best contract.”

The best contract, it seems, was one that would allow the half-Korean fighter to compete in South Korea’s SpiritMC organization on an annual basis. Kang has fought 10 times in the organization since 2004, winning all 10 fights, and is still the SpiritMC heavyweight champion.

However, the UFC requires exclusive contracts, which prohibit fighters from competing in other organizations. Such a limitation would have alienated many of Kang’s fans.

“SpiritMC was only asking that I fight for them once a year,” Kang said. “That’s one of the things that I really, really wanted to do — to keep my SpiritMC title and keep my fan base in Korea, which is really important to me.”

We’ve said it before: Now is not the time for the UFC to be stonewalling in regards to exclusivity, when their fighters are beginning to smell the money elsewhere (and specifically when there are virtually no contenders left in the UFC’s middleweight division). We understand the need for exclusive contracts — you wouldn’t want one of your stars building value for another brand, or getting injured while fighting elsewhere, or taking an image-harming loss against lesser competition. But there are exceptions where the benefits would far outweigh the costs. Even if Fedor Emelianenko were to lose in a Sambo tournament halfway around the world (an unlikely scenario to begin with), there are few American UFC fans who would see it, or care all that much, and the same goes for Denis Kang crushing cans in Korea. SpiritMC is not a competitor to the UFC; technically, Sambo isn’t even the same sport. Wouldn’t the UFC’s wisest move be to start handling these things on a case-by-case basis?

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Eric- April 15, 2008 at 10:28 pm
Matt Serra talks training for his fight with GSP on Muscle & Fitness Online:
godzillad- April 15, 2008 at 7:23 pm
Kang has always been overrated. If he would have been on TUF like originally planned, Diego would have choked him out. Kos would have decisioned him. Leben would have KOed him. Quarry would have owned him. If Fitch had made it to the house, finally, too he would have crushed him.
wow- April 15, 2008 at 6:55 pm
i like kang too, he's pretty good.. damn
Vrax- April 15, 2008 at 6:16 pm
Exclusivity is good for all the reasons you mentioned. Case by case is bad for all the reasons you mentioned. And further in so-and-so is special why wouldn't EVERYONE start asking for special deals?

Now maybe the UFC just needs to keep adding money tot he offer until Kang says yes, but that's a different topic.
tim sylvia's pussy- April 15, 2008 at 5:45 pm
its really frustrating seeing all of these top fighters leaving the ufc, and dana whites ego getting in the way of signing big names. when is the last time the ufc signed a big name fighter? dana needs to stop being such a retarded asshole
tim sylvia's pussy- April 15, 2008 at 5:44 pm
its really frustrating seeing all of these top fighters leaving the ufc, and dana whites ego getting in the way of signing big names. when is the last time the ufc signed a big name fighter? dana needs to stop being such a cock sucking asshole
Boneman- April 15, 2008 at 5:05 pm
Never saw Tyson or DelaHoya sign an exclusive contract....

Dana and his "Goombas" are A bunch of selfish pimps....

Maybe it would be good for state commissions to get more involved...!

charles- April 15, 2008 at 5:04 pm
dana white is an idiot and what is left of his empire will soon fall.
mmacoach- April 15, 2008 at 4:40 pm
If they allow this to happen now, other fighters are going to want the same. It will absolutely snowball. Fighters are not the types to take a back role for anything. If you allow Fedor that freedom, then Couture, Sylvia, Serra, etc... would say, I want that too!!! And actually, they would have more right to freedom being as they have been loyal (even against their will at times) to the UFC. If you do it for one, you have to do it for all. What they should consider is doing a fight-to-fight contract. That would boost their ratings for a single show and allow them the freedom to invite the fighter back.
Kim Couture is a cunt- April 15, 2008 at 3:28 pm
Dennis is rad, woulda love to have seen Kang Vs. Franklin/Hendo/Silva
TheFeniX- April 15, 2008 at 3:16 pm
I think it's become kind of a pride thing with White. The UFC should come first because it's the premier MMA organization (whether or not you find that true is irrelevant. It only matters that the UFC views itself this way).

The reasons behind wanting exclusive contracts are sound so I'm not going to bash the UFC for that. But you are correct in that they should look into exceptions. The sport is still evolving, so should the UFC if they want to keep their top spot.

I do wonder what set the precedent. If anyone can answer: what are the criteria for other professional leagues (Boxing, NFL, MLB)? From what I know of boxing, it's not handled the same way as most MMA organizations (who act as promoters as well), so that's probably a non-issue. But, would a football team owner throw a fit if their star quarter back played hockey in the off-season?
The Rock- April 15, 2008 at 2:56 pm
asians cant fight