Korean MMA fighter Yang Hae-Jun, long known as “Hungry”, returns to MMA at ROAD FC 48 after two years. Before that, his hiatus was three years. Needless to say, his fans are the ones who are now hungry.
Yang is now at a decade in the sport and his record stands at 11-5. For the first five years, he delivered performances full of devastating action. A war with much bigger Liu Wenbo went down as a boxing classic.
His wins over Sam Brown, Hideo Tatsumi and Gareth Ealy were brutally emotional. And believing that he should be a hot commodity, Yang took himself off the table and waited for the right thing to come his way.
“I’m very thankful and happy to finally be with ROAD FC. This situation is more than ideal. This organization treats me very well, so I’m very happy to fight here.
But it’s been a long time since Yang’s fought in MMA regularly, so not only will he have to prove he’s not got cage rust, but he’ll have to win new fans and reward the old ones for waiting.
“Don’t worry. I’ve been training MMA constantly. Striking, jiu jitsu, I’ve been doing everything. You already know my striking is superb. I’ve worked on other stuff. My stamina. I can fight a lot longer now, and I’m still explosive.”
Ever the butterfly, Yang hasn’t really been tied down to one team. This time, things seem to have changed as he’s put in some effort to renew his public image. He’s been training with Team Posse, known to produce powerhouses and tough guys. It’s a deadly portend.
“I’ve been at Team Posse. They give me all the MMA training I need, plus they give me all the strategy to operate. Coach Whi Seung-Bae, a former ROAD FC fighter, is planning everything for me. It’s been great to have my camp there.”
Yang’s opponent Michel Pereira is by no means a “gimme” and his comeback will be anything but a walk in the park. Pereira is known as being a very exciting and unpredictable fighter. He’s been active, produced some viral highlights, and is quite large for the division. But Yang’s always thrived under the worst kinds of pressure.
“Sure, he’s got some impressive techniques. I’ve got many things to use against him. I can also be explosive. The kind of level that he can show, I can show the same level. I’m really glad I got such a difficult opponent.”
It doesn’t take long before Yang starts kidding around, and his showman’s nature comes out. With his sunglasses still on, he leans back in is chair and starts to deliver the flippant jibes that have made him a promoter’s favorite. And, for some reason, he’s chosen to grow out a mass of curly hair that makes him even more idiosyncratic.
“My hair? My hair style represents my own lifestyle. Freestyle. I live free and enjoy my freedom. My hair represents that style.”
So he’s free, but is he still hungry?
“I want everybody to give me the new name ‘Rich. Money’.”
Yang is 30 years old, without injury, developed his grappling in tournaments, and is basically set to come into what could be the peak of his career. When queried about his goals, one would expect him to outline how he’s going to dismantle the growing ROAD FC middleweight division on his way to the title. One would expect him to say that, unless one knows the real “Hungry” – sorry, “Rich” Yang.
“My goal – I want a nice villa, and luxury cars like BMW and Benz. And girls. Not too many, just three to be by my side. That’s the kind of goal I’m thinking about.”