TOP FC 5: Heart of a Warrior will go down on Saturday, 7 February at BEXCO in Busan, South Korea, where Choi Young-Gwang and Jo Seung-Won will do battle in the Featherweight Grand Prix Final.
It all started back at TOP FC 2 in May, 2014. The Featherweight Grand Prix initially began as a eight-man tournament, but was narrowed down to just six before the event got underway. In the first fight of the quarterfinals, Choi Young-Gwang took on Yoon Min-Uk but the fight ended abruptly in a no-contest.
It was due to a cut from a headbutt in the first round. In the second billing, Kim Dong-Gyu devastatingly pounded out Kim Jae-Woong quickly in the first round in just 32 seconds. The last fight of the quarterfinals between Han Sung-Hwa and Joji Mikami ended in the second round with Han separating Joji from his sense.
Since one of the fights ended in a no-contest, it was obvious they should rematch to continue on the tournament. Therefore, Choi and Yoon were scheduled to fight but due to unforeseen circumstances Choi was replaced by Jo Seung-Won three months later in the only quarterfinal match at TOP FC 3 in Jeonju, South Korea. In the first round, Yoon was getting the better of his opponent but Jo mounted a comeback in the second and tapped Yoon with a slick mounted triangle choke.
All the twists and turns led to the semifinals at TOP FC 4: Edge of Pride on November 15th of last year in Seoul, South Korea. The semifinals consisted of gritty veteran Choi Gwang-Young facing power puncher Kim Dong-Gyu and unorthodox striker Han Sung-Hwa versus unpredictable Jo Seung-Won. Both matches were over in the first round and they were full of action from the start.
In the former contest, Kim came out blitzing with hard punches and elbows, yet Choi weathered the storm and trapped Kim against the fence hitting him with knees and punches to the body. In all sorts of trouble, Kim shot for a takedown but Choi landed on top and finished it with ground and pound. In the latter, Jo came out throwing overhand rights and one of them landed right on the button. Han was rocked and tried to recover except for that Jo swarmed and knocked him out against the fence.
Choi vs Jo: Fight Analysis
Choi Young-Gwang (NOVA MMA)
MMA Record: 9 Wins (2 TKOs, 4 Submissions, 3 Decisions), 7 Losses (2 TKOs, 3 Submissions, 2 Decisions)
Years Pro: 9 years
Ways to Win: The best tactic for Choi to employ is immediately pressing Jo against the fence and shooting for single-leg and double-leg takedowns. Once he gets it to the mat, the 28 year old will utilize his size and strength to keep it there for the rest of the fight. In his previous fights, he has displayed powerful punches from inside the guard. He is very effective at posturing up and throwing down hammerfists. From that position, he has options to pass into full mount or even sit in half guard and reign down strikes.
Yet, don’t forget that Choi does have four submission victories and two of them are of the leglock variation so he can threaten with these moves. If he stays composed and doesn’t overextend, then he will stay out of any danger of being submitted himself.
Seeing that the NOVA MMA mainstay has experience against a higher level of competition, he will need to take Jo into deep waters and put pressure on him like no other fighter has done before. Continuously keeping that top position and throwing down punches will possibly make him quit and that’s when Choi will need to finish him.
Jo Seung-Won (TEAM MAD)
MMA Record: 3 Wins (1 TKO, 1 Submission, 1 Decision), 1 Loss (1 Submission), 1 Draw
Years Pro: 2 years
Ways to Win: In his young career, Jo has shown that he is an all-around mixed martial artist. He has displayed knock out power and submission savvy on the ground. That is why he cannot get dragged into a stand up war with Choi. He needs to keep Choi on the outside with precise leg kicks and a constant jab. This will frustrate Choi into rushing in with wild strikes. Jo will then counter with a right uppercut or a left hook.
Also, Jo will need to stay off the mat by avoiding any takedown attempt. Choi is just too strong on the ground to risk going there and trying for submissions off his back. By keeping his distance on the feet, this should not be a problem. However, Jo does train with some of the best grapplers in Asia at TEAM MAD so he might take that risk.
One intangible that might come in handy is his mental state coming into the fight. He is young and there will be no expectations for him except to go in there and fight to the best of his abilities. Choi, however, has been around many promotions and has never won a title so he has much more of a burden to take that title back to his gym.
This fight is going to be a wild affair with each combatant coming out of the gate throwing every strike with bad intentions. Looking back at the tournament as any indication, it will not go into the third or even the second round. Once these fighters taste blood or see any sign of weakness, they will pounce on their opponent like a hyena on a wounded gazelle.
In some ways, this can be very entertaining for the fans who want to see just brutal destruction but it will not be beneficial for the fighters. To have longevity in the sport, many fighters can learn from a great such as Georges St-Pierre. He exemplified the notion of following a game plan that his coaches have strategized and executing it perfectly. If a fighter’s dream is to make it to the big leagues, they cannot risk going out there and tossing caution to the wind. They need to be calculated and systematic in their approach.
Since the TOP FC featherweight division is stacked with talented and tenacious warriors, whoever wins this title match will have an arduous journey in front of them trying to protect their valued strap. Either one of these fighters can easily hold the belt for a long time; however the way they win the fight will forecast this sentiment.