On February 1st, ROAD FC 21 will take place in Seoul, South Korea featuring a bantamweight clash between former ONE FC champion Kim Soo-Chul and TUF:Brazil alum Wagner Campos.
Kim Soo-Chul: Fighter Breakdown
Even though Kim Soo-Chul is only 23 years old, he has been competing professionally at a high level around Asia for the past half decade. He holds wins over some of the best fighters in the Pacific Rim region such as current UFC bantamweight Leandro Issa, ONE FC contender Kevin Belingon, and UFC veteran Issei Tamura. His career has not been without its ups and downs but since he is so young it is safe to say that he has a lot left in the tank.
The Team Force representative started his career back in 2010 as a featherweight for the Rising On organization. They pitted him against then champion Yasuhiro Kanayama for the title. Kim made it look easy by finishing the Japanese veteran via armlock late in the first round. This is particularly unusual because most fighters do not become a champion in their debut but it was a precursor of what was to come.
Then, at the end of 2011 he was signed by ONE FC to take on Leandro Issa in their inaugural event. Unfortunately, he dropped a unanimous decision to the Brazilian and this started the roughest patch of his young career, losing two more times within a span of six months.
Determined to get his career back on track, Kim accumulated two wins over Shoko Sato at ROAD FC 8 and Kevin Belingon at ONE FC 5. The latter contest set him up for a rematch with Leandro Issa for the vacant ONE FC bantamweight title.
On October 6th, 2012 at ONE FC 6 in Singapore, Kim avenged his loss and became the first official ONE FC Bantamweight Champion by demolishing Issa with an overhand right at the start of the second round.
Since Kim did not defend the title, ONE FC decided that they would have an interim champion crowned at ONE FC 9, which was Bibiano Fernandes. This led to a unification bout that was set for ONE FC 11 in Singapore.
At that event, Kim and Fernandes went at each other for five rounds swinging for the hip. They had many great exchanges but Fernandes did a wonderful job of mixing in takedowns and maintaining top position. After the final frame, the judges gave the unanimous nod to the Brazilian making him the undisputed ONE FC Bantamweight Champion.
In the last year, Kim has fought twice for the ROAD FC organization. Not wanting to let the judges decide the outcome of his fights, he has finished both his opponents in the first round, Motonobu Tezuka via TKO and Issei Tamura by rear-naked choke.
Wagner Campos: Fighter Breakdown
Wagner “Galeto” Campos has been around the game for almost a decade now. Competing exclusively in Brazil, he has faced a gauntlet of MMA savages throughout those years. After fighting in local shows for about six years, he got his opportunity to compete at the next level by earning a spot as a featherweight on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.
In 2006, “Galeto” began his quest in the world of mixed martial arts. On the regional circuit in Brazil, he won his first six fights and most of them were by the way of knockout.
Showing some promise early on, in 2009 he was set up to go up against current UFC flyweight contender John “Hands of Stone” Lineker. The level of competition was just too much for Campos so he lost via TKO. After that setback, he came back strong and won five of seven.
Then, in 2012 he caught the eye of the UFC and was selected to earn a spot on the first ever TUF:Brazil. He dominated Fernando Duarte Guerra and got the decision victory to cement his place in the house. However, his dreams of winning the show did not last long. In the first quarterfinal round fight, he faced Godofredro Castro and lost via decision at the end two rounds.
However, the UFC gave him a one-fight contract to compete at UFC 147: Silva vs Franklin 2 against cast member and ROAD FC veteran Marcos Vinicius on the preliminary portion of the card. Despite landing more on the feet and controlling Vinicius on the ground to win the first two rounds, Campos was knocked out on his feet in the third with vicious knees and punches.
Since his loss to Vinicius, Campos has only fought four times in the past two years. Even though the first was a win, in the last three contests he has been stopped.
Kim vs Campos: Fight Analysis
Kim “The Korean Dexter” Soo-Chul
MMA Record: 9 wins (3 TKO/KOs, 3 Submissions, 3 Decisions), 5 Losses (2 Submissions, 3 Decisions)
Years Pro: 4.5 years
Ways to Win: One thing about Kim is that he is very unpredictable when he steps into the cage and this has a huge impact. Any opponent that he faces has a hard time coming up with a game plan. The South Korean can be wild at times but it is sometimes very effective for him because it confuses the other fighter.
Coupled with being incalculable, he is extremely fast and has an infuriating pace. He likes to come out the gate and pressure his adversary. Kim will need to do this with Campos to cut off angles and to not allow the Brazilian to set his feet to throw bombs. While running backwards, Campos will be stuck against the fence and that is when Kim can attempt takedowns. The purpose for this is not to take the fight to the ground but to have Campos tire himself out by defending them.
Once the fight gets into the second or third round that is when Kim will be able to finish the fight. Campos does not have the best cardio so he will start to fade and his hands will droop lower and lower. Seeing those signs, Kim will then launch his left high kick or overhand right he likes so much to separate Campos from his senses. The Brazilian has been KO’d four times, most of them have been in third round.
Wagner “Galeto” Campos
MMA Record: 12 wins (6 TKO/KOs, 3 Submissions, 3 Decisions), 7 losses (4 TKO/KOs, 2 Submissions, 1 Decision)
Years Pro: 8 years
Ways to Win: “Galeto” has two main weapons in his standup; a solid left hook and piercing inside leg kicks. Since he is a southpaw, all he needs to do is gauge distance with his jab and then throw the left hook, inside leg kick combination. On top of that, he will have to continue to walk forward and repeat this over and over again. After a few leg kicks start to land, then he can start attacking the body or even the head to finish the fight. Also, Campos should be looking to throw the left hook counter when Kim starts rushing in with his flurries.
In addition to his striking, he is efficient at setting up his takedowns through that avenue. Once on the ground, Campos is an expert in BJJ especially from top position. He is phenomenal at getting to full mount and punishing his opponent with hammerfists. Even when he is on his back, the Brazilian has many different ways to reverse positions and land on top. Since Kim has two losses via submission, Campos should be able to put himself into an advantageous situation to get the finish.
The Brazilian will have the edge in strength and this will come in handy when the fight hits the mat. Campos has been fighting opponents much bigger than him and some of them were two weight classes above his natural division so it should be no problem to throw around the South Korean.
In this fight, both competitors have something to gain with a victory. Other than monetary rewards, these fighters are always trying to put themselves into a position to elevate their status.
Campos has been on a terrible losing streak and needs this win to reestablish himself as an elite fighter. Kim has the credential to allow “Galeto” to put himself back on the MMA scene since he is the former ONE FC champion and has victories over strong opponents. Therefore, a violent finish or dominate win could lead to a return trip back to Korea or a better offer from another organization. Also, Brazilians have not had much luck in the ROAD FC so for this reason the odds are stacked against Campos.
With a win over Campos, Kim could possibly get the next crack at Lee Yoon-Jun for the bantamweight strap. The only other candidate that could conceivably challenge the champion is Moon Jae-Hoon, but in his last fight at ROAD FC 20 against Kim Min-woo he won a lackluster majority decision. Even though Moon has a win over Kim, he still can leapfrog him just on merit and a spectacular victory. Or if the champion is not ready in time, this could lead to a rematch with Moon in a title eliminator later this year.