Benson Henderson to headline UFC’s first event in S. Korea

August 25, 2015
Benson Henderson

Benson Henderson, who is a half Korean, is expected to shake up the division after a successful debut at welterweight against Brandon Thatch.

By Nam Hyun-woo

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has announced its main card for its first-ever live event in Seoul this November.

The promotion company confirmed Monday that a slew of notable fighters will compete at UFC Fight Night Seoul, scheduled for Nov. 28 at the Olympic Park Gymnastics Arena.

The main event will be the welterweight clash between former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson (22-5-0) and Thiago Alves (26-10-0). Henderson, who is a half Korean, is expected to shake up the division after a successful debut at welterweight against Brandon Thatch. Alves, who has been a mainstay of the division, challenged the legendary Georges St-Pierre for the title in 2009 and has developed a reputation as one of the most feared fighters in the UFC.

In the co-main event, a familiar face to Korean MMA fans will enter the octagon. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (31-11-2, 1 no contest), who fueled speculation about the UFC coming to Seoul after dropping hints on Facebook, will face fellow heavyweight Anthony Hamilton (14-4-0).

After a 2011 loss to Roy Nelson, the 40-year-old former PRIDE star returned to the UFC in April and scored an upset TKO victory over Gabriel Gonzaga, avenging an earlier loss. Hamilton is relatively new to the UFC, but the towering wrestler is building a reputation in the circuit and seeking a signature victory over the MMA legend Cro Cop.

Kim Dong-hyun celebrates after claiming a unanimous victory over Brazil's Paulo Thiago at the Ultimate Fighting Championship Macau, China, in this Nov. 11, 2012, photo.  (Korea Times)

Kim Dong-hyun celebrates after claiming a unanimous victory over Brazil’s Paulo Thiago at the Ultimate Fighting Championship Macau, China, in this Nov. 11, 2012, photo. (Korea Times)

The Seoul event will also feature a number of fighters who are Korean or have Korean heritage. Kim Dong-hyun (20-3-1), better known as “the Stun Gun,” will display his skills against veteran fighter Jorge Masvidal (29-9-0) in front of his home fans, while Choo Sung-hoon (Japanese name: Yoshihiro Akiyama), better known here for his TV appearance as Sa-rang’s father, will unleash his fighting spirit in his return to the octagon after two years out against undefeated Brazilian Alberto Mina (11-0-0).

The UFC has long promised an event in Korea, part of its expansion plans for the Asian region, with UFC President Dana White indicating several times that Seoul was on the list of cities that the UFC would head for in 2015. The promotion announced in May it would make its South Korean debut on Nov. 28 with its Fight Night event. The promotion holds annual events in Japan and so far has hosted cards in Macao, Manila and Singapore. UFC Fight Night Seoul will be its third event in Asia in 2015.

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