Lim HyunGyu rises to the Main Event level on UFC Fight Night 34 in Singapore, January 4, 2013. The fast rising Korean star faces Strikeforce Champ Tarec Saffiedine in what will be the biggest match of his career so far.
Saffiedine’s Octagon debut was delayed due to injuries but the Belgian has a big resume that can’t be overlooked. Lim knows this and should relish the chance to step in the cage and make his mark as “the next big thing” out of Korea.
Originally, Lim was set to face Kiichi Kunimoto, the HEAT Welterweight Champion, in what would have been a ferocious clashing of heads. If Lim had not gone to the UFC last year, that fight might still have been a matchup on the horizon for him anyway. However, he is in the big leagues, and with that comes the responsibility to step up at every chance offered. Spurning offers is not a career option in the UFC.
Now the rangy and tough fighter takes on kickboxing killer Saffiedine, and the test will be who has the better striking. Saffiedine – more so than other fighters in the division – will not be deeply concerned of Lim’s great height advantage since he’s shown he can handle taller opponents. It’s up to Lim to make his mark and keep his list of KOs growing to prove he is here to stay.
MMA-in-ASIA spoke with Lim at the media scrum prior to UFC Singapore and discussed his outlook on the headliner fight, his rising potential, and his game plan.
MMA-in-ASIA: There are people in Korea who have seen you train, and people who have seen your past fights, and they say you haven’t spent enough time in the Octagon to show people what you’re really capable of.
Lim: It’s only been a little bit since I’ve made my debut in the Octagon and I feel the same way. I feel like I haven’t reached my full potential. There are things that I’m using in sparring and training that I’m working on to bring to the Octagon. So I’m getting better with each fight.
MMA-in-ASIA: You have two knock outs so far. Does this show what you want to show in UFC?
Lim: Not even close!
MMA-in-ASIA: What’s your game plan going into this fight, the biggest fight you’ve ever faced?
Lim: He’s a striker and I’m a striker as well. I plan to neutralize his aspects, but at the same time I’m not too worried about what he’s going to do. I’m going to come in there with my game plan and make him adjust to me.
MMA-in-ASIA: What’s your wingspan?
Lim: Two meters!
MMA-in-ASIA: What are your emotions in regards to being the headliner?
Lim: I’m excited. It’s surreal!
MMA-in-ASIA: Korean Top Team is known as having some of the hardest physical training. Does your fight camp ramp up form that, or is it always beast mode?
Lim: Because our normal training is so hard, we don’t really have to ramp up too much for a fight. It’s more about avoiding injuries and making sure we peak at the right time.
MMA-in-ASIA: Who have been your training partners for this?
Lim: My main partners because of the southpaw switch stance have been Dongi Yang, Mike Ahn, our team captain “Beast” – Jang Yong Kim, the PXC Featherweight Champion – and the light heavyweight of ours who won at Rebel FC last week Doo Hwan Kim.
MMA-in-ASIA: What are your future goals?
Lim: Rather than looking to the future, right now I’m only concerned about Saturday night.