“Handsome” Kwak Kwan-Ho of Korean Top Team is a young, up-and-coming bantamweight fighting for TOP FC and PXC. He sports an undefeated record of six wins with five TKOs.
Kwak turned pro back in December of 2013 and hasn’t looked back since. He trains at the world-famous Korean Top Team with the likes of Lim Hyun-Gyu, Bang Tae-Hyun and Yang Dongi. Also, he is under the tutelage of the coaching staff that consists of Ha Dongjin, Song Se-Min and Jeon Chan-Yeol. Bumping heads with world-class fighters and coaches day in and day out is molding him into a formidable force.
The South Korean is coming off one of the toughest fights of his burgeoning career against relentless grappler Trevin Jones at PXC 47 which he won via split decision on the scorecards.
A little over a month before that fight, he took out Choi Jae-Won at TOP FC 5 with a devastating knee to the head in the second round after being rocked in the first frame. It was a type of comeback victory a fighter needs to prove they have heart and determination.
About a month removed from his battle at PXC 47, “Handsome” sat down with Asia MMA to discuss his young career, the two fights he already has had this year, and future plans in both the bantamweight and flyweight divisions.
Asia MMA: You’re undefeated at 6-0 with 5 TKOs and considered one of the best bantamweights in Korea. How does it feel to be in this position in such a short period of time?
Kwak Kwan-Ho: Even though I’m 6-0, I believe that I’m still gaining experience and I have to continue this to elevate in the ranks. Also, I don’t feel that I am one of the best in Korea just yet. I want people to see me as a prospect with great potential.
Asia MMA: Let’s talk about your fight at PXC 47 against Trevin Jones, he just wanted to hold you against the fence most of the time and you displayed excellent takedown defense. Did you expect that from Jones, and how did you prepare yourself?
Kwak Kwan-Ho: After watching his fights, I knew that would be part of his game plan. He usually engages with some striking to set up takedowns against the fence. So, my coaches came up with a strategy to combat his tactics but it did not work in the first round and there was an injury to my tooth.
Asia MMA: About that, the commentators said that they saw you spit out a tooth during the first round. Did you really lose it? What caused that?
Kwak Kwan-Ho: The first big takedown he got on me, I felt that something was wrong with my tooth. I got up and he went for another takedown. When I was trying to get back up, he head-butted me in the mouth and that was when my mouthpiece filled with blood and I knew my tooth was broken. I spit the tooth out to the side so the ref would not see it.
Asia MMA: This was the first time you’d ever gone to a decision. How did you feel when the third round was over and it was up to the judges?
Kwak Kwan-Ho: To be honest, I thought I was going to lose since I was in Guam fighting a Guam-based fighter and the third round was pretty even. I was really pissed off at myself for not being able to punish him more with my striking than I did. It was frustrating. But I got the split decision so I was really happy in the end.
Asia MMA: A month before that fight, you took on Choi Jae-Won at TOP FC 5 and you got a knockout in the second round. What are your thoughts on that fight? Did you make any mistakes that you were disappointed about?
Kwak Kwan-Ho: In the first round, I made a big mistake. I was supposed to fight Ricky Camp but it was changed to Choi Jae-Won so I kind of took it easy. I thought I was in a comfortable position so I put my hands down and he timed a punch that caught me. I feel that made me realize I have some things to work on with my defense. Then, in the second round, I knew what my opponent was going to do so I attempted counters a few times and it worked out.
Asia MMA: In Korea, you are building a fan base because of your exciting fighting style, fans who are very dedicated and loyal. How does it feel to get support from them?
Kwak Kwan-Ho: I didn’t know I had fans! The people that are close such as my girlfriend and my friends always give me words of encouragement. I like to fight for the fans but I still need to have some fights that I follow the game plan and win.
Asia MMA: What are your plans in the next couple of months? Do you have a fight in the works?
Kwak Kwan-Ho: Currently, I have injuries to my tooth and my ankle. I still need to fully heal myself. But I do some light training right now. I will be able to fight in the next two or three months. I have already fought twice this year so my plan is to fight three more times in 2015.
Asia MMA: Is there anyone in the TOP FC or PXC organizations that you would like to step in the cage with?
Kwak Kwan-Ho: I want to fight the best in the bantamweight division and later on I will even drop down to the flyweight division to challenge anyone that is worthy. But there’s no fighter in particular I want to fight, just the toughest.
Asia MMA: You are part of the new generation of fighters coming out of Korea. What are your thoughts on the growth of MMA in Korea? How is the competition?
Kwak Kwan-Ho: In the past, Korean fighters were a little behind Japanese fighters as in talent but now Korea has caught to Japan and even surpassed them. I think fighters from Korea are able to compete on an international level wherever we go.
Asia MMA: Quick prediction. T.J. Dillashaw will defend his bantamweight title against Renan Barao in a few months, who wins this fight and how will it end?
Kwak Kwan-Ho: Dillashaw will win. I thought that Barao might win if they had a rematch but I watched his last fight and was disappointed in his performance.