Bang Tae-Hyun makes his second Octagon appearance at UFC 174 on June 14, 2014. Korean Top Team’s latest product will gun for a KO.
Bang became both the NeoFight and DEEP Champions in the first four years of his career. The competition skyrocketed in Sengoku against Takanori Gomi and Jorge Masvidal, then for the next five years he was sporadic with his competitions. A 2013 KO in his team’s sponsored TOP FC got him back in the limelight and a shot at international gold.
In the UFC’s first Singapore outing at the top of 2014, Bang faced Mairbek Taisumov. The normally gung-ho Korean was unusually tentative, something that can now be chalked up as those real life Octagon jitters. He will make his second appearance in Canada on June 14th. MMA-in-ASIA spoke with Bang and KTT Coach Ha Dong-Jin shortly after weigh ins for the event.
MMA-in-ASIA: How’s your condition?
Bang: Good, I made the weight cut.
MMA-in-ASIA: What did you eat afterwards?
Bang: Vietnam noodles, pho, and a rice and meat dish. And we’re going for another dinner again soon. Korean food, yogi and kalbi.
MMA-in-ASIA: How are you feeling?
Bang: I feel pretty comfortable right now. I feel good.
MMA-in-ASIA: Is there any pressure on you being in Canada, away from home?
Bang: No pressure at all. The weather has been great. It’s been a very smooth training camp leading up to this fight.
MMA-in-ASIA: Who have you been sparring with to simulate your opponent?
Bang: Jang Yong Kim, the PXC Featherweight Champ.
MMA-in-ASIA: Do you feel prepared?
MMA-in-ASIA: Can you share a little of your game plan for this second fight in the UFC?
Bang: I hope to knock him out. The first fight I was very nervous, I was hesitant, but this time I’m going to be the aggressive one in the Octagon, and push the pace right from the beginning. It will be a striking, dominating offense.
MMA-in-ASIA: What is your strength over your opponent?
Bang: I think I can impose my will on him. I can do whatever I want to him, whether it’s striking or on the ground. I have a physical strength advantage.
MMA-in-ASIA: Now that you have the Octagon jitters out of the way, will you follow in the footsteps of your other KTT teammates in terms of aggression?
Bang: I’m going to do my best to live up to it. Sorry, I’m not good at interviews! I will talk in the cage.
MMA-in-ASIA: KTT has a reputation and a relationship with the UFC. Who are some other fighters that might be heading towards the UFC?
Coach Ha: Jang Yong Kim, the Beast. Ad also Ox (Dongi Yang), I hope Doo Hwan Kim, he’s 6-2 or 7-2. And one more guy, a new guy who’s 3-0, Kwan Ho Kwak. Gyo Pyung Hwang who got the flash KO at Rebel. So I’ve got five fighters I want to go to the UFC. I wish, I hope.
MMA-in-ASIA: Is there any pressure to perform because you’re from KTT?
Bang: Yeah, a little bit.
Coach Ha: But he’s well-prepared. I think he’ll knock him out, no problem.
MMA-in-ASIA: Do you think Bang is “ripe” and how about his longevity?
Coach Ha: I think he’s ready. This fight is very important for him. All KTT fighters want to fight in the UFC. This is only his second fight, so he needs more experience. Maybe one or two more fights and we’ll see.
MMA-in-ASIA: Do you feel that UFC careers can be very quick now?
Coach Ha: I understand, it’s a big business. UFC’s a jungle!
MMA-in-ASIA: What makes Bang stand out from the rest?
Coach Ha: He’s a very heavy puncher. He’s going to knock him out.
MMA-in-ASIA: Has he knocked out anybody in training?
Coach Ha: Yeah. Really!
Bang: I’d like to do my talking in the Octagon. Talking in advance about knocking people out is not my style. Getting asked questions kind of makes me uneasy.
MMA-in-ASIA: But not in the cage?
Bang: Not in the cage!