Korea’s most popular mixed martial artist Dong Hyun Kim is approaching another huge fight next week at UFC Fight Night 29 in Barueri, Brazil.
The colorful character known as “Stun Gun” is riding a two fight winning streak, enjoying a little extra glamor since appearing this K-Pop music video (alongside his fellow judoka Akiyama, who memorably plays his mob boss in the same clip), and facing another rising star in Brazil’s Erick Silva.
For his part, Silva will enjoy a huge Brazilian crowd to cheer him on. Kim knows he has his home country on his shoulders, too, with a legion of fans staying up all night to watch his bouts on Korean TV.
Yeah, I’d say.
But, you know what’s bigger than this fight?
Well, judging by recent interviews — quite possibly, Kim’s mouth.
Kim recently declared himself the best wrestler and grappler of the 170 lb division. That’s right, a better wrestler than UFC Welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre.
Per the translation, Kim boasts, “I think I am number one. I’m the best wrestler and grappler in my division. If I ever fight GSP, I can guarantee he would be shocked by my wrestling. ”
“When I trained in America, a lot of the staff knew I was a good wrestler so they brought in NCAA Division 1 wrestlers. Even the heavyweights could never take me down. I also mix in my Judo background with my wrestling. Even if they were stronger, I knew how to use that against them because of my Judo. ”
His final message to Silva:
“I am going to bother you for 15 minutes. You won’t be able to just waltz in there and walk around. Let us fight so we are forced to spend our last bit of cardio and will. In the end, your lungs will burst from grappling with me.”
Well, you’ve got to love the confidence. But, entering the bout a +200 underdog, is he realistic?
Kim has certainly adapted his judo to MMA well, and has been working his way up the UFC welterweight division for five years now. His biggest win was probably Nate Diaz, who has shown some vulnerability to fighters of Kim’s style.
Kim may present matchup problems for Silva, too. The Brazilian was ground out by Jon Fitch in one of his only career losses.
Silva seems to be rapidly improving though, and he’s become something of a fan favorite for his dynamic jiu-jitsu game, winning recently by a reverse triangle armbar. He won knockouts earlier in his career and may have an advantage in standup against Kim.
Kim’s most clear strategy would be to use those wrestling skills to keep the fight off the feet, and maintain enough pressure to ground out a decision.
But can he pull it off against the prospect? And judging by the recent cut of Yushin Okami, can a “grinder” like Kim really find a home in the UFC, anyway?
Like his boasts, it’s all unclear right now.
At the end of the day it would seem he’s made the right moves: he’s made himself a memorable personality, attracted the right attention, and has people watching.
It’s possibly the biggest night of his career now. All Kim can do now, is win.