Soo Chul Kim might not have the most impressive sounding record, but that is largely because the 22-year-old is a former ONE FC champion who has been in with some of the best bantamweights in Asia and faced BJJ black belts on no fewer than four occasions.
At Road FC 14 in Seoul on Saturday night, Kim turned his career around in the space of the two minutes it took him to demolish UFC veteran Motonobu Tezuka in a virtuoso performance that culminated in a vicious left hook to the body of the experienced Japanese fighter.
As Tezuka collapsed to the ground, Kim unleashed a barrage of punches that gave the referee no option but to step in and save the stricken fighter from further punishment. The win takes the Korean up to 8-5 while the Japanese fighter drops to 20-8-4.
The Road FC 145-pound title was on the line, as Bae Young Kwon and Mu Gyeom Choi met in the final of the eight-man tournament to crown an inaugural champion. The tournament began back in June. Kwon was a heavy favorite to win.
The form book went out the window as Choi claimed a career defining victory with a split decision win at the end of an extra fourth round, after the title match had been declared a majority draw following the conclusion of the regulation three rounds.
Although Kwon was able to secure multiple takedowns, Choi was relentless with submission attempts from his back and also caused the ONE FC veteran problems with his sharp striking. As the fight progressed, the underdog’s belief increased and the key moment arrived late in the extra round when he took his opponents back and unleashed a barrage of punches.
The surprise win takes Choi’s record to 5-3 and instantly established his position among the upper echelon of the Asian featherweight scene, while Kwon drops to 9-4 and will have to put any aspirations of challenging for the ONE FC title or signing with the UFC on hold for the time being.
Another underdog to register a well-deserved decision victory at Road FC 14 was Nam Jin Jo. He took on Mikihito Yamagami and made light of the gulf in the caliber of their records to register a clear-cut decision win, which takes him to 8-6 while the Japanese flyweight drops to 10-3.
Ryuta Noji didn’t fare too much better; the light heavyweight’s record fell to 18-8 after he was stopped by Nae Chul Kim, who is now 3-3. It wasn’t an unmitigated disaster for Japanese fighters as lightweight Takasuke Kume won a unanimous decision over Eduardo Simoes. He moves up to 16-3-4, while the Brazilian falls to 7-3-1-1.
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