September 27, 2005

by MMAWeekly.com Staff
“Being little ain’t easy.”

OK, the subtitle of this article is not a direct quote. In fact, Bob Sapp never said anything of the kind. But those watching the finale of Friday night’s K-1 World Grand Prix First Round in which he faced 7’2″ Korean Hong-Man Choi, probably got the message loud and clear anyway.

Sapp, who is listed at 6’7″ tall and weighs in at 342 pounds, has rarely found himself at a size disadvantage during his career as a fighter. And while he has made some improvements in his striking, his K-1 fighting style – maneuvering his opponent onto the ropes or into a corner and keeping him at bay with one extended arm while pummeling him with wild, sweeping hooks from the other – still depends heavily on his considerable size and strength.

Granted, this style has enabled him to defeat 4 time K-1 champion Ernesto Hoost twice in the past, but it was clearly not as effective against the much larger Choi. Why? First, Sapp was not able to physically manhandle Choi, who is a former Korean Ssirum (sumo) champion. Second, and more importantly, Sapp was well within firing range of Choi’s chopping, short left and right hooks when trying to keep him at arm’s length. Third, Choi was able to exploit his height advantage and land a knee to Sapp’s nose that got him a standing 8 count in the third round.

During his interview after the fight, Sapp offered his view of what happened, saying, “I should have thrown more low kicks and capitalized on my punches. I really beat myself tonight moreso than him beating me. He got some help from a premature standing 8 count, but those things are going to happen. I don’t think the cards reflected what the match was really like [because of the standing 8]. But I’m looking forward to seeing how he does in the tournament, and I wish him well.”

Whether he beat himself or not, Choi was obviously not intimidated by his bulk. More than once during the match Choi was relaxed enough to taunt his opponent with a grin. During his post-fight press interview, Choi was asked what was going through his mind during the lulls in the action in the second and third rounds. To this he replied, “I was trying to keep myself from laughing.” When asked why he would have laughed, Choi replied, “Because Bob looked so adorable.”