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Blink and you missed it. John Hathaway most certainly did.
The British mixed martial artist was giving as good as he got against Busan’s Kim Dong-hyun during their welterweight bout at the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s card in Macau in March. But, suddenly, it was lights out.
Kim showed Hathaway — and the world — why he’s one of the sport’s most exciting talents, with an elbow that seemed to come from nowhere as he spun and landed it flush on Hathaway’s chin. Already it’s being hailed as the knockout of the year and further proof that a world title fight beckons for the 32-year-old Kim. Little wonder Kim is also known as “Stun Gun.”
But, for the moment at least, Kim is focused on the old adage of taking things one fight at a time. Next up is an assignment against the number-four-ranked welterweight Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley back in Macau on August 23 in what promises to be the toughest fight of Kim’s career.
“I think the best thing to do is just take things one match after one match,” says Kim. “In this sport you have to be ready for anything, and so you can’t look too far ahead. So I am just preparing for Woodley and concentrating on beating him and taking one more step in my career. If I keep winning, then a title fight will come my way.”
“UFC has everything and for me means I have to use every skill I have. It’s all action, I like to test myself, to push myself to the limit, and UFC gives me a chance to do that.”
Kim, who started out in judo before expanding his range, is one of a number of Korean fighters in the UFC stable, and the organization — which in a little over a decade has expanded into a multibillion-dollar global phenomenon — has big plans for Asia. Along with bouts in the Southern Chinese enclave of Macau, Singapore, the Philippines and — eventually — South Korea are down to host future events.
“I think the more people see the sport, the more people become fans and even want to get involved in the sport,” says Kim. “There are a lot of Korean fighters coming through, and there is a lot of attention on us. We all want to prove that we are the best fighters in Asia. UFC has everything and for me means I have to use every skill I have. It’s all action, I like to test myself, to push myself to the limit, and UFC gives me a chance to do that.”
Success against Woodley would take Kim’s record to 20 wins against three losses and raise his world ranking up from ninth to within a shot for the UFC’s middleweight title, currently held by American Johny Hendricks. Kim won’t be drawn into making any predictions — but he does say he has a few tricks in store for whomever he might fight.
“I am always preparing my moves and looking for ways to achieve the knockout,” says Kim. “It might be the elbow that people saw last time in Macau, or it might be one punch. I like to entertain the fans and give them something to yell about. Last time it was all about the timing. It worked perfectly that one time — but I have a lot more skills I want to show.”
Mathew Scott is a Hong Kong-based sportswriter and fight fan.
UPDATE: Kim Dong-hyun was defeated by Tyron Woodley in Macau —losing the fight in 61 seconds.