At UFC Japan on September 20, 2014, two Asian-made superstars face off as PXC Champ Lim Hyun-Gyu faces Pancrase King Takenori Sato. Both fighters released confirmation of the bout on social media today.
It was bound to happen – that two regional champions end up getting paired on the biggest international stage – but this bout came as a bit of a surprise anyway.
Lim has gained a remarkable reputation for his never-say-die attitude across three bouts with the promotion. He won twice by KO and then faced returning Strikeforce Champ Tarec Saffiedine in a 5-round war in which he almost couldn’t stand because of the punishment he took. Lim has earned an impressive two Fight of the Nights in his brief tenure so far.
Sato’s luck – not so good. He was a last minute replacement on a card early in the year, and ended up getting dropped by Erick Silva and unable to recover within the first frame of the fight.
So the two have little in common regarding their UFC careers: Sato got his ribs broken by the first kick thrown, whereas Lim got the soul kicked out of his legs for 25 minutes yet still lived to tell the tale.
But looking deeper into their records, and understanding the Asian landscape, tells a different story. Sato won and defended the Pancrase title an impressive six times, a record for which he was presented a gold belt for his achievement. Among his defeated challengers was UFC-signed Kiichi Kunimoto, HEAT Champ. Lim went a straight four KO finishes to get a shot at the PXC belt wherein he submitted Ryan Bigler to win the title.
Both fighters train out of very tough teams focused on the modern game of MMA, Sato with Ryo Chonan’s Tribe Tokyo, and Lim with Korean Top Team. Sato will literally have a mountain to climb in his second UFC bout as he gives up a 4″ height advantage and Lim’s wingspan is one of the greatest in the division. Lim will have to be wary of the ground game, if it has a chance to go there.