Yang, who goes by the endearing moniker "The Ox", is far from a household name in the combat sports world and many fans will be watching him fight for the first time. What exactly should they expect?
"Me winning," Dongi Yang quipped with a smile. "The fans can expect me to fight hard and to put on an exciting show."
His demeanor is augmented by a cheerful and casual humility; his future plans are not. "My goals for the division are probably the same as most fighters-- to be the champion. My goal in life is to be world champion and the UFC Champ is the world champion, so that's what I'm ultimately shooting for."
The 5'11" southpaw started his career as a heavyweight and trounced his first nine opponents, all by merciless TKO save one triangle choke. His early fights were in smaller Korean promotions, but Yang got his first big opportunity in World Victory Road's Sengoku promotion against former Pride heavyweight Pawel Nastula.
Yang's typical strategy of steamrolling his opponent with huge punches required some tempering against Nastula, a Judoka who took home the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics. The fight was ugly but "The Ox" prevailed. After two more violent stoppages, the news broke that Yang had signed with the UFC but would plummet all the way down to middleweight.
He drew Chris Camozzi at UFC 121 and lost a split decision that fans would be thoroughly outraged with had they seen the preliminary card scrap. Shaking off the tough loss, Yang was back to form at the UFC Live 3: Sanchez vs. Kampmann card with a second round TKO of Rob Kimmons.
Formerly relegated to the prelims, Yang skyrocketed into the co-main slot at tonight's UFC event in New Orleans and offered a down-to-earth explanation for his leap in exposure.
"Mostly timing, I think. Anyone can look at the card and know that it's not the strongest card that the UFC has ever put on," Yang said with a chuckle. "Court McGee being well known for winning TUF season 11 is probably the biggest reason, though," he continued. "I think, stylistically, they figured that me fighting McGee would make for an exciting fight, as well. Either way, I'm grateful for the opportunity."
Continued in the full entry.
Yang has the potential to be a sleeper at 185-pounds -- a weight class that dominant champion Anderson Silva has virtually laid waste to -- but won't even take credit as the rising star from his respected fight camp, the Korean Top Team.
"No, I don't think I'm a secret weapon," Yang admitted. "The real secret weapon at Korean Top Team is Hyun Gyu Lim. He's one of our welterweights and he's really incredible. He's huge for a welterweight and his all around game may be the best in all of Korean MMA right now. He recently beat Ross Ebanez at PXC in the Philippines and we're hoping that he'll be joining us in UFC soon."
Though Mike Tyson was cited as a hero on his UFC.com profile, Yang has different preferences for MMA. "I like Tyson, especially early in his career, but I don't think I emulate his style. I like watching lots of different fighters: Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen in particular."
The Belfort-Sonnen combination seemed out of place at first, but makes sense when compared to the hard-nosed wrestling prowess and quick, heavy boxing that Yang conjoins in the cage. His assessment of McGee acknowledges that he might have his work cut out for him on the mat.
"He's a tough fighter and a good wrestler. I know he works hard, so it motivated me to work that much harder. I also tried to concentrate on wrestling during training," Yang said before lending his closing comments. "I want to thank all the fans, my team and my sponsors for all the support. Also, I want to thank the UFC for the chance to fight in such a big bout."