Korean fighters take home 5 victories at UFC Seoul event

November 30, 2015
Kim Dong-hyun celebrates his first-round TKO victory over Dominic Waters during the UFC Fight Night Seoul at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena in southern Seoul, Saturday. (Yonhap)

Kim Dong-hyun celebrates his first-round TKO victory over Dominic Waters during the UFC Fight Night Seoul at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena in southern Seoul, Saturday. (Yonhap)

By Brian Han

It’s a rare sight to see a Korean fighter in the octagon, so to have eight going in one night with the stands filled with hometown fans proved to be one of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) most unique events yet.

The UFC continued its effort to globalize with its first ever event in Seoul, South Korea on Saturday.

UFC Fight Night 79 hosted 11 matches, eight of which had a fighter of Korean descent.

Beginning with the main card, Benson Henderson, whose mother is Korean American, headed into the event with one final fight in his current contract.

That meant the match represented something bigger than just another tick in the win column. It also held a meaningful bearing on the trajectory of his career.

The 32-year-old squared up against Jorge Masvidal in a welterweight match that went the full five rounds. As close as the fight seemed, the judges gave Henderson the victory.

“I had a good fight, I’m thankful I got my hand raised,” he said after the fight from the ring. “It was fun, I enjoyed it, let’s keep doing it. Hats off to Jorge for giving me this fight, who is super tough. The hardcore fans know how tough Jorge is. I’m not afraid of hard work so I ask you, was that good enough?”

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Hometown hero Kim Dong-hyun, otherwise known as the “Stun Gun,” fought in front of a South Korean crowd for the first time in over a decade. He admitted that the atmosphere got him fired up.

“I felt the love from the crowd during my fight,” he told UFC.com during a post-fight interview. “The crowd chanting for me made me fight harder.”

Kim might not have needed the support as he entered the match as the favorite against Dominic Waters who he outmatched from the start.

Waters failed to make it out of the first round after Kim threw him down on the mat and unleashed blow after blow to his opponent’s head. The referee couldn’t help but stop the fight at that point.

The victory improves the 34-year-old’s record to 6-1 in his last seven UFC matches putting him at no. 7 in the welterweight division.

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Ham Seo-hee out slugged Cortney Casey Saturday night in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Ham Seo-hee out slugged Cortney Casey Saturday night in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Don’t forget the female fighters.

Both South Korean Ham Seo-hee and Cortney Casey put on a show as the crowd watched the two duke it out through three full rounds.

Casey came out firing in the first round, and seemed to have the competitive edge, but the Korean fans must have given Ham a second wind from that point on as she earned a victory by unanimous decision.

“Finally what I had wished for has finally come true,” she said in the ring after her round. “It especially feels great since this is the first UFC fight in Korea.”

Her opponent had nothing but good things to say about the 28-year-old first time UFC fighter.

“That was a great fight, it was awesome, even though I’m disappointed about the result,” Casey said. “Ham is tough and we knew what she was coming with so we prepared for that.”

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Here comes “The Korean Superboy” who hasn’t lost since 2010!

The 24-year-old Choi Doo-ho faced off in his second UFC match ever against Sam Sicilia.

The baby-faced South Korean may not have looked anywhere near as intimidating as his opponent, but as soon as the fight started, it became clear that Sicilia would have to work hard if he planned on landing any blows in the octagon.

To be fair, the American did connect with a few punches, but it wasn’t enough for Choi’s speedy reflexes.

The crowd went wild as soon as Choi took Sicilia to the ground, which ended by knockout in the first round.

“There were few dangerous moments, but the cheer from home fans gave me strength to avoid them,” he said immediately after the match. “The victory feels amazing and it feels like the hard work paid off. Before entering the fight, I had thought about finishing him in the first round and that’s what it was.”

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Bang Tae-hyun emerged as another victorious South Korean in his fight against Leo Kuntz.

The two gave their all in the octagon throughout the entire 15 minutes

Hard punches were landed, submission attempts failed leaving both completely gassed by the time the judges had to make their decisions.

The 32-year-old Bang won by split decision in his home country to even his UFC record at 2-2.

“I’m very happy to have won in Korea,” he said after the fight. “Leo was persistent, and combative. Happy to bring a win to the home fans.”

Despite a loss for Kuntz, he seemed to leave the octagon with a level head.

“That was a great fight, we were both really tired, I think he was more tired than me,” he said. “We both went at it with everything we had, but he got the nod so that’s how it went.”

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Nam Yui-chul unfortunately landed on the list of hometown fighters that lost after an close split decision that gave Mike de la Torre the victory.

“I’m disappointed but I did my best,” he said afterward.

Yoshihiro Akiyama, who decided to go by his Korean name Choo Sung-hoon while fighting in Seoul, also lost by a slim margin in a split decision.

The 40-year-old seemed pretty disappointed with the outcome as did the crowd.

Even so, he surprised himself after recovering from a barrage of knee combinations in the second round.

His opponent Alberto Mina tried his best to take the match to the ground, but Choi refused to fully lose his balance.

“I thought the match was over, when I almost collapsed in the second round,” said Choo during a news conference after the bout.

Lastly, Kim Dong-hyun, not to be confused with the “Stun Gun,” suffered a defeat against Dominique Steel.

After getting picked up and slammed into the ground, Steel finished the job by knocking him out 27 seconds into the final round.

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