As the UFC prepared for its first ever card in China in Macao on November 10th, it was a no-brainer that it would be stacking the event with fighters from around Asia, like Zhang TieQuan and Cung Le. The next pool to choose from was the Korean pool, one that sees a quite a few outstanding athletes and a few more recent adds to the roster in recent times. Kim “Stun Gun” DongHyun (15-2-1), who incidentally dislikes his nickname, has been in the UFC for 5 years in a division stacked with some of the best talent on the planet. He came unbeaten into the promotion and his strong judo skills, good chin, and aggression have made him an exciting fighter to watch. Ahead of his next fight against Paulo Thiago, where he’ll be looking to continue to climb the ranks in the welterweight division, MMA-in-ASIA had a chance to catch up with him.
I’d like to ask about your last fight. You had a severe cramp that ended it early against Damien Maia, what happened?
I was actually trying to elbow him, so I exerted a lot of power, then I felt a severe pain and thought I had a cracked rib at the time. I really still don’t know why I had such pain. It still feels a little uncomfortable, but I’m okay.
You were supposed to debut in PRIDE just as it was purchased and dismantled. How did you feel when you missed the opportunity?
When I hear the PRIDE opening song, I still feel romantic about fighting in PRIDE with Lenne calling my name. It seems to be impossible, though if PRIDE returns one day, I would definitely want to fight. I used PRIDE’s opening theme as my entrance song once in the UFC because of my romance withPRIDE.
Are you changing your training for the fight with Paulo Thiago?
I’ve been working on my ground work, and trying to raise the intensity of my workouts overall, take my preparation up a notch. As I’ve been going forward, I’ve been setting up my strategy.
You have trained with Yushin Okami in the past in Japan. How do you feel about your training in Japan for some of your fight camp?
I’ve been very satisfied with training at Wajutsu Keishukai and GRABAKA. I go to Japan for my training once or twice in a year. Every time I train in Japan, they treat me really good. There are not so many fighters in Asia tougher than me but Okami is so tough that I have improved and learned a lot through training with Okami. I would like to show my gratitude for CMA’s boss for helping me training in Japan.
How does it feel to be staying in the same time zone for this fight?
It’s good that we don’t have to worry about the time difference. There’s nothing but positives about this fight.
What do you weigh normally and how much will you cut?
87-88kg, so I only cut about 10 kilos.
You look a lot bigger.
It’s because I have long legs! And big shoes. [laughs]
Compared to most other Asians, Koreans are doing very well in the UFC, including new signees, why do you think that is?
I think it’s just the Korean genes. We are just mentally tougher than other fighters in Asia.
Hioki Hatsu just visited Team MAD in Busan after the last ROAD FC 009. Did he enjoy the training with you?
He was really a tough fighter as he’s ranked at the top level in the world. I think he’s good at all skills, striking, wrestling, and grappling. Like Hatsu Hioki, I believe when good fighters from Japan come to our gym, TEAM MAD and train together, it should be good for both of us. I hope Hioki visits our gym again.
Do you have enough sparring partners in your weight class?
Yes. My teammate, TEAM MAD’s Myoung Ho Bae. He’s the best sparring partner for me. He can adjust into my opponent’s style so I can cover everything. That means Bae’s really good at everything, striking, wrestling, and on the ground. We also have many other good fighters here.
Would you welcome other players to come to Team MAD?
One thing I want is a heavier weight-class partner like middleweight/welterweight, so I want to bring Yushin Okami, Nakamura K-Taro, and even Koji Ando into my team. I’ve trained with many Japanese fighters through my training in Japan but I’ve never had a chance to train with Shinya Aoki so I want to train with the best grappler, Shinya Aoki.
What do you think of Korea’s domestic promotion ROAD FC? Is it important for MMA in Korea?
Now MMA is booming in Korea and Korea is the hottest country for MMA in Asia. I believe ROAD FC is playing a big role in the recent Korean MMA scene. Also important point is that more Korean fighters keep getting into the UFC and showing good fights. For fighters to get onto a big stage, they need experience. ROAD FC is holding amateur events too. ROAD FC isn’t bigger than UFC, although it’s one of the biggest MMA promotions in Asia. I hope ROAD FC will be the best MMA promotion in Asia.
Thank you Mr Kim, and we’ll see you in Macau!