By Joo Kyung-don
SEOUL, May 12 (Yonhap) — Two South Korean mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters said Friday they are confident that they will leave the Octagon with victories at an upcoming Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event because it’s going to be staged in Asia.
Kim Dong-hyun and Kwak Kwan-ho will compete at the UFC Fight Night 111 in Singapore on June 17. Kim, nicknamed Stun Gun, will take on Colby Covington in a welterweight bout, while Kwak will face Russell Doane in a bantamweight match.
Both Kim and Kwak said they expect to show good performances in Singapore because they will not be suffering too much from jet lag and other environmental factors compared with competing in Western countries.
“Small things can influence you a lot when preparing for bouts,” Kim said. “I’m satisfied that this time, I don’t have to waste too much effort to overcome jetlag. I think I just need to do what I’ve been doing,” he said.
Kwak, who will make only his second octagon appearance, said he also has big expectations at the Singapore event.
“I feel very honored to be included on the Singapore card,” Kwak said. “I want to show the power of South Korea at an Asian event.”
Kim eyes to become the winningest Asian UFC fighter in history with a victory over Covington. The 35-year-old, who made his UFC debut in 2008, is currently tied with Japan’s Yushin Okami, who is no longer with the promotion, with 13 wins.
“I want to keep my promise of setting the Asian record for most wins,” he said. “After doing so, my dream will be to have a title match in South Korea.”
Kim, currently ranked No. 7 in the welterweight division, said he wants to fight against those who are ranked higher than him, but he had no choice when he was booked to face Covington, who is 6-1 in the UFC. Both Kim and Covington are looking for their fourth straight victory.
“I was looking to meet those who are in the top 10, and Covington is a somewhat unexpected opponent to me,” he said. “I know he is a fighter who has good wrestling techniques, but I want to show him how good my wrestling skills are.”
Covington, 29, has been saying that he is ready to make Kim look bad in Singapore. When asked about the American fighter’s comments, Kim said he will just focus on his game in the octagon. Kim’s only loss in his last seven fights was in 2014 when he fell to current UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.
“I think (Covington) just wants to get some attention,” Kim said. “I wonder what he’s going to say after the bout.”
Kwak said he is eager to earn his first UFC win against Doane. The 27-year-old lost to Brett Johns last November, which was also his first defeat in his MMA career after nine bouts.
“I suffered a defeat in my UFC debut, but I’ve learned a lot of things from that bout,” he said. “I wasn’t good at both wrestling and striking. I need to find out against Doane whether I’ve improved.”
Kwak said going to Singapore with Kim is already a big help for him.
“You know I don’t have much experience fighting outside South Korea,” he said. “Going with a veteran like Kim just gives me so much energy.”