Stun Gun speaks about the future of mixed martial arts in Korea
photo from: bloody elbow
by Danny Kessler & Alexis Tomlin
Kim ‘Stun Gun’ Dong Hyung of South Korea recently won a fight against Amir Sadollah at UFC 114 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. I had the opportunity to sit down with the only Asian welterweight in the UFC to discuss his latest victory and the state of Mixed Martial Arts in Korea today.
He told me that going into the fight he knew Amir’s style from their time training together last year. Prior to the fight, he had arrived in Las Vegas with his coach Sung Hoon Yang and training partner Myung Ho Bae training for about a month in some of the top gyms in Las Vegas including Xtreme Couture, Wanderlae Silvas Fight Team, Warrior Training Center, Team Fasi, and Tapout Gym. Despite only competing in the UFC on a few previous occasions, he was immediately recognized by the fighters in the Vegas area all of whom remembered him from his battle the year before with Karo Parisyan at UFC 94.
Following a phenomenal performance against Sadollah, his perfectly executed GSP like timed takedowns earning him a decisive victory by unanimous decision, the stun gun returned to his native Korea appearing on ‘Celebrity Athlete Challenge’ among other popular talk shows whose main target audiences are the younger generation. Of late his face is increasingly recognizable as he walks around his home city of Busan. “Nowadays, even non-fighters are starting to know me.”, he said with no small degree of affection in his voice.
After winning $65,000 fighting in America, which is a lot of money in Korea, he bought himself a house. “After I win my next UFC fight I’m going to buy a Porsche” he remarked confidently. Assumptions of the cocky stereotype of a flashy, thoughtless fighter laid aside Kim emphasized that he wants to show his success because he sees himself as a role model for future fighters coming out of Korea who dream of competing in the UFC.
In regard to the state of MMA in Korea he told me that “When I first came to the UFC people thought Koreans were weak, but I proved them wrong. Korea is slowly rising in the MMA world.” There are five other Korean nationals he believes are good enough to fight in the UFC and he wants to raise awareness of them in America. He says the younger generation thinks highly of him and of MMA; “Once they know the sport, they love it. Lately in Korea, the sport has grown exponentially.”
He relayed his feelings to me that Korea didn’t much care about figure skating before Kim Yu Nah exploded onto the scene. “Now they are all big fans since she won an Olympic gold medal”. He predicts a similar trend in viewership in Korea within the Mixed Martial Arts since he has been stacking up victories in the most established and well known MMA tournament on the planet, the UFC.
Talking about the popular UFC related television series ‘The Ultimate fighter’ Kim said he would love to see Ultimate Fighter Asia; Korea versus Japan with the winner having the opportunity to fight in the UFC. He thinks this would be a great way for the sport to grow in the relatively untapped Asian market.
With more fights two more fights remaining on his contract with the UFC we spoke at length about his hopes for the future. ‘I believe at this point I have made my bones with the UFC so I’d love the opportunity to fight a top 10 guy’ he told me, a fire suddenly alighting behind his otherwise striking, yet calmly composed face. ‘Of course most of all I’d like to fight GSP’ he continued, the excitement in his voice at the prospect not lost in translation, but realistically he sees himself being paired up against Carlos Condit for his next fight.
In a country where they still consider sports a ‘stupid person’s job’, Korea’s Kim Dong Hyung continues to pioneer the path for future young hopefuls in the sport and is helping to influence change in a conservative culture and contribute to expanding interest in the Mixed Martial Arts around the world.