Lee Kil-Woo makes his first ROAD FC Bantamweight title defense against Lee Yoon-Jun on December 14, 2014. Following two surgeries and an 18-month layoff, he says he’s now stronger than ever before.
If ever there was a Cinderella story in Korean MMA, Kil-Woo fits the bill. He was placed in the ROAD FC Bantamweight Tournament on the back of three losses, yet surmounted the odds and his detractors to stifle the opposition and claim the belt.
Then tragedy struck. It involved an old training injury and a new one that took two surgeries to fix and a year and a half away from the cage. What could have been career-ending, Kil-Woo says was more like miraculous,
“The doctor said I have stronger nerves than anyone else.”
Kil-Woo doesn’t particularly stand out from so many other hard-working Korean fighters, yet he’s gained this cult-like admiration that only an underdog who comes out on top can achieve. And with his hard luck injuries and comeback, he’s got even more of a following. Kil-Woo’s knock problems have left him with a surgery and a characteristic voice that elicits giggles from the unknowing, but he barrels right past them. The inner strength he has shines through.
His opponent, Lee Yoon-Jun, is arguably Korea’s biggest prospect right now. During Kil-Woo’s layoff, Yoon-Jun has cemented his status with a win streak over international standouts with a variety of tactics. Kil-Woo is not in the least intimidated. In fact, he does what others are failing to do, by naming the holes in Yoon-Jun’s game,
“It’s his chin. And he’s weak. I’m much stronger than he is.”
Kil-Woo says he’s fully recovered and in even better condition than he was during the bantamweight tournament days. He’s expanded his training into deeper waters to evolve his game, and he’s confident that he has five tools in his arsenal by which he can get the finish. Kil-Woo, from underdog to champion, will give nothing less than everything in his first title defense at ROAD FC 20.