Jung MoonHong is the gregarious and outspoken Founder and CEO of South Korea’s ROAD Fighting Championship. As a former kickboxer and professional MMA fighter, Mr Jung has been adamant that his promotion solely exists to provide opportunities for fighters, whether they be from Korea or abroad. An affinity for combat sports lies deep in his heart. It shows when he walks around silently throwing combinations while lost in thought, and it shows in the relationship he’s developed with all the athletes who have walked through his door.
Mr Jung has become an icon of sorts due to his sharply tailored suits and ever-changing hairstyle. He looks aloof, cool, a movie star stepping on the red carpet. He is the definition of charisma. But his true character couldn’t be further from the persona his style instantly portrays. Mr Jung has a sense of humor that is beguiling and when he converses it shows that he cares deeply about the interaction.
However, his sharply silver suited minions who seamlessly run his events didn’t get so regimented because of a boss who’s a ‘nice guy’. Mr Jung sees himself as responsible for picking up the mantle of the Japanese haydays of MMA and he relentlessly drives this home to his staff. He doesn’t stop so they don’t stop. But because many of them are his students at Force MMA, and current or former fighters themselves, the tough love is concept they accept and embrace.
Recently Mr Jung has garnered international attention for his outspoken statements on the UFC and future matches he wants to make in ROAD FC, all translated into English and thus made more widely available. And then there’s the video of his 40 second front kick KO that got him the nickname ‘Anderson Gold-va’. MMA-in-ASIA was able to sit down with Mr Jung to discuss these media revelations as well as the latest ROAD FC event, #011 in Seoul, and much more about the workings of his promotion.
ROAD FC 011
Mr Jung, as ROAD FC 011 is now in the record books, let’s start out with how the event went. It was your first internationally live streamed event. How many people attended? Was it sold out?
This was our first time at the Olympic Hall. We sold out – 3,530 seats.
The Young Guns undercard was the Bantamweight tournament and this time you brought in some heavy hitters for the main card, like Joachim Hansen, Sokoudju, and Minowaman. What was your personal opinion of the fights?
My opinion? I was really impressed.
The Young Guns series really seem to bring out some incredible talent and there were some fantastic matches and outcomes on this one. Did anyone stand out to you?
Lee KilOo. In the next main event, we’ll hold the Bantamweight Championship and he’ll be in that, against Song MinJung.
What did you think about the Minowaman fight? Seeing as Son HyaeSuk took the fight only a couple of weeks before.
I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t believe what Son HyaeSuk did, but even more, I couldn’t believe Minowaman!
I didn’t see anyone announced as Fight of the Night or MVP, don’t you normally do this? Did you award KO of the night or fight of the night to anyone at ROAD FC 11?
Every event is different. If I announce that someone gets a bonus, then other fighters think “Hey, I did well, I did better”. I don’t want this kind of atmosphere. If I did that this event, I would have had to announce Kume, Nam YuiChul, Whi SeungBae, Joachim, Minowa… you see? Headache, headache.
Are you going to ask any of these fighters back for the next event?
I’d really like to ask Kume. Murat Kazgan. Also Minowaman. All of these guys are professional and really impress me.
After the Bantamweight Championship, have you decided on the next division to hold a championship tournament in?
I’m considering a Young Guns Featherweight tournament. It would be a one day tournament to decide the finalists, like Young Guns 7, the same thing. One day and eight fighters.
Do you have everyone signed for it?
Any foreign fighters in it?
ROAD FC 012
You’ve announced the date of ROAD FC 012 to be June 22nd. Where will you hold it?
Wonju. My hometown.
And Korean welterweight favorite Bae MyoungHo will be on that card. Do you have an opponent for him yet?
I can’t announce anything publicly yet, but I do have some very high profile welterweights I am thinking about.
So are there any other fights you can announce right now?
We’re working on the matchmaking now. We’ve almost confirmed everyone, but not yet. I do have more international fighters I’m working on, but they’re not all confirmed yet so that’s why I can’t announce them. Within one week I hope I can tell you more.
You’ve announced a new monthly tournament in the ROAD FC Coliseum just north of Seoul that you’ve procured. When will it begin?
We’re targeting July, but it needs to be confirmed by the television station.
So these events will be televised in Korea? With Super Action?
Will you stream on the internet?
No. It’s a smaller event.
It’s a smaller event, but you’ve previously said that it will channel fighters to the main numbered events, so will foreign fighters be on the cards?
Yes. Maybe from Pancrase. Maybe from URCC. Yes, they are welcome. We have contact with many foreign representatives from overseas. I really would like to see some of the fighters from the Philippines come to Korea.
Recently there was an interview that reported you saying you were very close to booking Cro Cop versus Melvin Manhoef. Is this accurate?
That match is only in discussions right now. It’s just my thinking. I’m dealing with Cro Cop’s management first on getting him, then we’ll talk about match making. I think it would be a great match.
RULES AND MATCHES
Speaking of matchmaking, who does all of it, is it you?
When you book foreign fighters – like Joachim Hansen – did you look for him or did he contact you?
Generally, I look for the fighters I want. I look for striking fighters the most, because I like striking. In my opinion, ROAD FC is different from some other promotions because we really want exciting stand up, and good grappling, ground work too. But wrestling, well… it’s boring. I want fighters who finish. I think that’s the most important.
Your rule set is a little bit more restrictive than most other promotions today. Will you ever consider changing them? Like your rule prohibiting elbows?
That will change in June.
Great! How about no upkicks?
Yes, that will be allowed too.
So will you go full “PRIDE” rules with stomps and soccer kicks?
No, no, no stomps and no knees to the face on the ground. Standing knees, okay, and three or four point contact is okay for knees, but grounded they will not be allowed.
Why did you not allow elbows from the beginning? Was it something to do with possible cuts and blood shown on the television broadcast?
No, no, because the fights on the ground were ending too quick. From the ground and pound and the elbow cuts, the doctors in Korea tend to stop it too quickly. But now we’ve educated them more and they understand that small cuts don’t always affect the fighters’ ability and safety.
Now that ROAD FC has had two VOD events through Sherdog and a live stream on Ustream, it has become more international and more people are paying attention to what goes on with the promotion. One of the issues being discussed on English language forums is the refereeing and judging. Can we talk more about the refereeing, specifically the Lightweight Title fight between “home town” Nam YuiChul and Japan’s Kume Takasuke?
I question them as well. The committee that handles the refereeing and judging is not part of ROAD FC. It is separate.
So is it a government sanctioned body?
No. It’s an independent organization. A private group. Chang DeokYoung is in charge of the group. It started at the beginning of ROAD FC when I asked Mr Chang to be the head referee, and then I left everything up to him. Now they operate completely independent from ROAD FC.
If the refereeing is out of ROAD FC’s control and not sanctioned, then how can improvements in quality and competence be assured?
I’m worried about this too! If the media and the fans complain about the refereeing, I know Mr Chang will take notice of it and make changes. The more interviews there are with foreign fighters who have something to say about Korean refereeing and decisions will also be good advice. I know Chang DeokYoung would change! It gives me a headache. What I really want most from the referees is just to be fair. At ROAD FC 11, Nam YiuChul versus Kume was a championship fight. I think the two of them did about the same amount, but one of them had to be declared the winner since it’s a championship fight – it can’t be a draw. So it had to be the judges’ decision. I felt very heartbroken when Kume was crying after the fight.
So you think Kume should have won?
I’m not saying that, I think both of them did well. But there can only be one winner.
There have been a lot of people saying they thought Kume had rounds one and two.
ROAD FC doesn’t judge like that. It’s based on the total fight. Judges 1, 2, and 3 all came back with the scores the same – even – so they asked for an extra round. It surprised me! Then Nam’s performance was a little bit better. The fight itself was a draw, in my eyes. If Kume won, or if Nam won, nobody should be upset. It was a great fight from both of them.
You had a brain hemorrhage last year, how is your health now?
My condition? Headaches all the time!
You’re getting even busier now, how do you handle it?
I only sleep for two or three hours a day.
What’s your opinion of the new batch of foreign fighters who’ve come to ROAD FC?
Overseas fighters are very kind, very polite, professional – like from Japan, Turkey – they keep promises. Like Andrew Leone, Vuyisile Colossa, very polite.
The guys coming to Korea from other countries make comments about how strong Koreans are. Even if they lose or win, they always say they are so surprised at how strong the guys are, how hard they hit. This time, the foreign fighters came out ahead, generally. What are your thoughts on this?
I don’t really care about that. I’m not doing this promotion to find out who is the strongest. I’m doing this to make fights that impress the fans. The fighters that stand out to me are guys like Minowaman, Seo DooWon, Vuyisile Colossa – the fighters that make an exciting fight are really the best fighters in my eyes. I don’t see championship belts and records as the most important. If you think belts are all that’s important, then go to the UFC. That’s why the UFC is getting less exciting. They only care about your record. There are only decisions. I want KOs, submissions. [laughs]
Is there anything else you would like to say?
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