On February 1st, at the newly remodeled JangChung Gymnasium in Seoul, South Korea, Tyrone Henderson and Hong Young-Gi will kick off the main card of ROAD FC 21 in a featherweight tilt.
Tyrone Henderson: Fighter Breakdown
Tyrone “Anaconda” Henderson, the 29 year-old American from Chicago, has not taken the traditional route for a fighter from the United States. Under the ROAD FC banner, he has worked himself up from fighting in the Young Guns circuit to a main card spot at this upcoming event in less than a year.
Henderson, a staff sergeant and combat instructor for the U.S. military, was on the verge of turning pro stateside until he was assigned to come to South Korea for his next tour of duty. Wanting to start his professional career as soon as possible, he looked around for gyms to join and settled on SSABI MMA. Training with some of the fighters that are already on the ROAD FC roster, it was a given that he would follow suit.
The SSABI MMA representative debuted on May 31st, 2014 at ROAD FC 15 against Oh Ho-Tak. The American came out swinging from the gate but Oh was quick to take the fight to the mat. The rest of the contest was mostly a grappling affair with Henderson working from his back and actively attempting submissions. Unfortunately, after two rounds, it was declared a draw by the judges that were cageside.
Six months later at ROAD FC 19, Henderson faced Yoon Jin-Su in his second professional bout. A little over a minute into the first frame, a scramble ensued and “Anaconda” transitioned smoothly into a guillotine choke. It was not long after that Yoon had to tap.
Hong Young-Gi: Fighter Breakdown
Hong “Grandpa” Young-Gi, the 31 year-old South Korean, has been involved in martial arts all his life. Beginning at a young age in the discipline of taekwondo, he established a base for his transition to mixed martial arts. Even though he is developing skills in all the different aspects of MMA, he still can go back to his bread and butter to put on a show.
Before embarking on his journey into MMA, he was a prospect to join the national taekwondo team back in 2006. Instead, he decided to sign a professional deal with an agency but at the last minute the deal fell apart. Since then, he has worked hard to get himself into the spotlight and now he has his chance at ROAD FC 21.
Training at Team One in Seoul, South Korea has been advantageous in his progression as a fighter. Day in and day out, he is grinding with the likes of current bantamweight champion, Lee Yoon-Jun, and current lightweight champion, Kwon A-Sol. With training partners that are champions allows him to get a taste of what it is like to be on top in the ROAD FC.
“Grandpa’ made his first official appearance as a professional last November at ROAD FC 19. He was pitted against Baek Seung-Min in the final fight of the preliminary card. When Hong heard the bell, he went straight in with a hard kick to the body that collapsed Baek against the fence. The Team One product then rushed in and started blasting his opponent with punches, shortly thereafter, the ref jumped in to stop the contest.
Henderson vs Hong: Fight Analysis
On paper, this simply looks like a typical grappler versus striker matchup but don’t be fooled. Both these fighters are in the beginning phases of their careers and we just haven’t seen enough to fully evaluate their potential in the cage. By just looking at their backgrounds and previous fights, the following aspects are obvious.
Hong Young-Gi will come out in his traditional taekwondo stance looking to throw kicks to the legs and midsection. Since Henderson has a sizable height advantage, the South Korean needs to work those two parts of the body before even attempting to land a shot to the head. Also, it is imperative that he mixes in some boxing to throw off the American or those kicks will not be as effective. In the end, everything will hinge on whether Hong can set up his kicks and defend takedowns.
Tyrone Henderson is a freestyle fighter which means that he does not have a particular preference when he steps into the cage. Yet when observing his previous outings, it would be copacetic for him to take this fight to the ground and work his prowess. As an amateur, he has a few wins via submission and his only win as a pro ended the same. Another factor that will be auspicious is pressure. Henderson likes to move forward and that will help in keeping Hong on his heels, and therefore, limiting the amount of kicks that are thrown.
There are many unclear factors coming into this fight. For Hong, nobody has seen how well-versed he in the grappling department or even if he has any type of boxing ability. All we know is he can kick and do it with devastating accuracy. Similarly, Henderson is mainly known as a grappling prodigy and we have no idea about how technical his stand-up really is or does he even have any power behind those strikes.
On top of that, the featherweight division is very murky in its current state. Other than the title challenger in the main event, Seo Doo-Won, there is no other fighter that is clearly next in line for a title shot in the weight class.
With questions needing to be answered, it makes this fight very alluring. With a spectacular performance, either one possibly can jettison himself into a title eliminator fight later this year. One thing that is for sure, the ROAD FC is unpredictable in its matchmaking so anything can happen.