In three UFC fights thus far, South Korea’s Dongi Yang has met up with two members of The Ultimate Fighter season 11 cast, Chris Camozzi and Court McGee. This Tuesday, he faces Brad Tavares, who, you guessed it, was on season 11 of TUF. Is “The Ox” tired of seeing these guys yet?
“No, I don't really care about that,” said Yang through manager / translator Brian Rhee. “I'll fight whoever the UFC matches me up with.”
It’s one of the more bizarre coincidences you’ll find in the fight game, and while trying to get an accurate current read on anyone from a show that took place two years ago can be difficult, Yang has pulled out the old DVDs in his bouts with the aforementioned trio.
“They didn't show TUF in Korea back then, even though they do now,” he said. “But I did watch some of the fights from that season when I was getting ready for my fights.”
Unfortunately for Yang, he dropped decisions to Camozzi and McGee which count for the only two losses on his 10-2 record. Both were close and competitive, which could make things even worse for a fighter’s psyche, knowing that a slight break here or there might have changed the outcome. And the 27-year old southpaw, breaking from convention, doesn’t look at the defeats as being a necessary evil in his growth as a fighter.
“I guess it depends on the fighter, but for me, I think I learn more from my wins,” he said. “Or maybe it's just that losing sucks.”
Now that’s more accurate than what you usually hear. And if not for the queries from reporters, Yang wouldn’t even be thinking about what happened around his lone UFC win against Rob Kimmons in March of 2011. For him, all that matters is what’s next.
“My first loss was a little tough, because I hadn't experienced it before,” he said. “But I don't really dwell on those losses. I'm just looking forward to my next win.”
He’s expecting it to come this Tuesday. Tavares is no slouch though, having shown a maturing game since coming off TUF11. And though the Hawaiian is coming off a tough decision loss to Aaron Simpson in July of last year, what may be tougher for him to overcome is the long layoff since that bout. Yang is aware of such an issue, but as he explains, he’s had a lengthy break himself.
“I've been off for about eight months, myself, so I'm just looking to keep the fight at my pace,” he said.
And that pace involves moving forward at a steady clip and delivering the kind of pressure that can keep any opponent from getting into a steady rhythm. Add in heavy hands and a southpaw stance, and you can see why he’s a tough out for anyone at 185 pounds. And he’s not done building on his existing foundation just yet.
“I'm always pushing myself to be stronger and develop my game,” said Yang. “It's my goal to improve, in some way, every time I train.”
Speaking of training, Yang has been aided this time around not just by his Korean Top Team squadmates, especially Hyun Gyu “Ace” Lim and Doo Hwan Kim, but by visiting UFC stars Benson Henderson and Dong Hyun Kim. And to make the long trip from Seoul to Fairfax, Virginia even easier to deal with, he has teammate Chan Sung Jung fighting in the card’s main event against Dustin Poirier.
“It's definitely been a good thing,” said Yang. “We brought a lot of guys from Korean Top Team here (to Virginia) and that helps out with timing our training and for morale. It's a lot more comfortable being in the US with a larger group.”
On Tuesday, it’s just going to be Yang and Tavares in the Octagon though, and both are hungry to get back in the win column. Yet in breaking down the final result “The Ox” has no doubt as to who will get the “W” and how.
“The fans can expect to see me win by KO.”
Yang Gets His Opportunity to Put the TUF Curse to Rest
"I'm always pushing myself to be stronger and develop my game. It's my goal to improve, in some way, every time I train." - Dongi Yang