ROAD FC 14 Korea rising: Choi Mu-Gyeom new FW Champ amid a night of surprising upsets

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ROAD Fighting Championship 14 was the promotion’s second event and first of the numbered series on February 9, 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. In a night of surprising outcomes, Korean fighters once again proved their dominance.

In the Seoul Olympic Hall, approximately 5,000 people funneled in from the freezing cold to watch some white-hot MMA action, and ROAD FC 14 did not disappoint. The Featherweight Championship and several Korean versus Japanese match ups made for an interesting night and one which probably began cementing the shifting of power-player poles from Japan to Korea. A high-profile fight with a famous Korean comedian making his MMA debut garnered a media circus, and set ROAD FC into the mainstream media thoroughly.

The Young Guns 11 undercard started off at 6pm sharp with a new round of young Korean fighters coming mostly from the amateur circuits. These relatively unknown fighters had their camps in attendance, so the atmosphere was spirited throughout each match.

Kicking off the night, Munguntsooj Nandinerdene again was the lead bout against Nam Ye-Won for the second time in as many months. Munguntsooj couldn’t repeat his spectacular KO performance from ROAD FC – Korea 1 as Nam discovered his weakness on the ground, put him there, and finished him with a rear naked choke. Cho Yeong-Seung put in an aggressive performance against Jin Tae-Ho in a blistering 2-rounder. Jin’s excellent sub defense didn’t allow Cho to get the finish he wanted, but Cho looks to be one to watch out for with his positioning and ground and pound.

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Lee Jung-Yung defeated Kwon Se-Yoon with the second submission of the night. Kwon looked sharp and went on the offense early but Lee – wise beyond hid 18 years – waited out everything he threw, including up kicks, until he could lock onto a limb for the finish. Kim Ho-Joon and Kim Dae-Myung laid it all on the line for their two rounds, starting off throwing bombs then looking to finish on the ground. Dae-Myung’s plan was the more dominant in the first round, but Ho-Joon fine-tuned it in the second and brought home the first win of his career with ground and pound that the ref chose to stop just 3 seconds from the bell. Gutsy Kim Yi-Sak faced Lee Hyung-Seok in a last-ditch effort to claim his tough guy status, but it still wasn’t enough to put him ahead. Lee frustrated him in every aspect of the game, and while Kim’s good head movement saved him from getting KOed, Lee put the hurt on him for the decision win.

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The main card of ROAD FC 14 started out with the usual trademark line up of the stars with to the ROAD FC theme song, lasers, and fireballs. Then bombs landed into the equation with a light heavyweight bout between sluggers Kim Nae-Chul and Ryuta Noji. Noji’s recent dominating performances were not enough to prove his strength against Kim, who showed he’s a powerful up and comer in the sparse big man’s division. Gladiator Champ Noji proved he has a chin of iron against Levan Razmadze when he contested for the Megaton Championship of DEEP, but Kim made a liar out of him by repeatedly dazing him in the second. One punch flattened him towards the end of the second, and a smiling Noji recognized and respected the Korean’s power.

Shooto Flyweight Champ Mikihito Yamagami was the latest high-profile Japanese fighter to visit ROAD FC’s cage, and he did it against scrappy and proliferate journeyman Jo Nam-Jin, who also visited ROAD FC for the first time. Jo took the offense and imposed his game plan early, using clinch and the cage to negate Yamagami’s superior striking. Both traded for takedowns, with Nam almost locking on subs through his, but Yamagami finding it difficult to keep Nam from cage walking back up. Nam’s Team MAD trademark wrestling won him the fight, along with the trademark decision. It was a very surprising fight to see Yamagami so dominated, and Nam really showed himself to have improved solidly.

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Tezuka Motonobu, ranked number one in Pancrase when he was picked up by UFC to replace injured Kang Kyung-Ho, faced Korean sensation Kim Soo-Chul in what was expected to be a very difficult fight for the Korean, due to Tezuka’s incredible strength. Kim did the impossible; instead of implementing a long-range striking plan to avoid the grappler’s grasp, he engaged in both. Kim displayed battering boxing prowess and took Tezuka into the Japanese’ self-avowed waters of close contact and underhooks. Tezuka had never been knocked out. Kim showed him what is was like in spectacular fashion. Then he jumped the cage and made a victory lap around the arena, a begrudging coach and PRAD FC CEO Jung Moon-Hong furrowing his brow disapprovingly at the antics, but unable to hold back his pride for his student Kim, the consummate underdog.

What do you do when a grappling sensation submits everyone in his division except the champion? You bring in fresh meat. That’s what ROAD FC did for Kume Takasuke, emotional fan favorite. Brazilian Top Team black belt Eduardo Simoes, heel hook wizard, was culled to take on the strong Japanese in what was expected to be grappling mayhem. However, Kume took a page from the book of his precious kryptonite Nam Yui-Chul; he laid Simoes out on the canvas with no remorse and kept him there, peppering with punches but not dare engaging in a position which might have allowed him a finish, but also would have let Simoes back in the game. It was a match restless to watch, but a strategic win that Kume needed very much.

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The inaugural Featherweight Championship bout between Kwon Bae-Yong and Choi Mu-Gyeom was a foregone conclusion in the eyes of many onlookers. Kwon’s amazing performance throughout the tournament saw him go toe to toe with icon Michihiro Omigawa and drop Kosuke Umeda with a stunning knee to the body, while Choi’s lone appearance was against a relatively unexperienced opponent of whom he made quick work. Having only one outing in 2013, it was safe to say Choi was an uncounted variable. As Cha Jung-Hwan’s protege, this shouldn’t have been the case. Kwon came out sharp in the first with his judo and the two went toe to toe. However as the second and third progressed he faded uncharacteristically, and became a shadow of his previous appearances. Choi outstruck Kwon, and when put on his back, he out grappled him as well, forcing Kwon to defend repeated submissions. The notoriously fickle ROAD FC judges gave the affair a majority draw and forced it into a fourth round, where Choi saw his moment to shine and got Kwon’s back to end out the round and eek a split decision to claim the belt.

Lightweight Champion Nam Yui-Chul stepped into the cage with a dapper suit and glasses to ceremoniously hand back his belt to CEO Jung. Nam was allowed out of his contract when the UFC offered him a contract. He will be debuting on the TUF China Final card in Macau on March 3 against Kazuki Tokudome.

The final bout of the night saw media attention skyrocket at comedian Yoon Hyung-Bin made his debut with fellow debutant Takaya Tsukuda, a Japanese national playing up the part of a payback victim. It didn’t go as planned at first, as the amateur fighter swarmed and rocked Yoon twice. Quick-footed and determined, Yoon came back with a perfectly executed right that crumpled Takaya to the canvas.

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ROAD FC 14

ROAD Fighting Championship 014
Sunday 9 February, 2014
Seoul Olympic Hall, Seoul, South Korea

MAIN CARD

Lightweight Superfight
Yoon Hyun-Bin defeated Takaya Tsukuda by KO in the 1st Round at 0:49

Featherweight Tournament Final Match
Choi Mu-Gyeom defeated Kwon Bae-Yong by Split Decision

Lightweight Superfight
Kume Takasuke defeated Eduardo Simoes by Unanimous Decision

Bantamweight Match
Kim Soo-Chul defeated Tezuka Motonobu by TKO from punches in the 1st Round at 1:58

Flyweight Match
Jo Nam-Jin defeated Yamagami Mikihito by Unanimous Decision

Light Heavyweight Match
Kim Nae-Chul defeated Noji Ryuta by KO in the 2nd Round at 4:28

YOUNG GUNS 11

Featherweight
Lee Hyung-Seok defeated Kim Yi-Sak by Unanimous Decision

Bantamweight
Kim Ho-Joon defeated Kim Dae-Myung by TKO to Punches in the 2nd Round at 4:57

Featherweight
Lee Jung-Yung defeated Kwon Se-Yoon by Submission to Armbar in the 2nd Round at 3:21

Bantamweight
Cho Yeong-Seung defeated Jin Tae-Ho by Unanimous Decision

Catchweight -75kg
Nam Ye-Won defeated Munguntsooj Nandinerdene by Submission to Back Choke in the 1st Round at 4:24

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