UFC FN 57 preview: Choi Doo-Ho debuts against Juan Manuel Puig

UFC FN 57 Choi Doo-Ho vs Manuel Puig
UFC FN 57 Choi Doo-Ho vs Manuel Puig

UFC Fight Night 57: Edgar vs Swanson will go down in Austin, Texas on November 22, 2014. To kick off the preliminary card, South Korean striker Choi Doo-Ho and solid grappler Juan Manuel Puig will step into the Octagon.


Choi Doo-Ho (11-1)

The young phenom hailing out of Daegu, South Korea has crept under the radar to most fans of mixed martial arts in the Western Hemisphere. However, over in the Far East he has been tearing through the Japanese MMA scene for many years.

Choi Doo-Ho began his career in Japan at the end of 2009. In his debut as a professional against Takashi Matsuoka, the Gumi MMA product obtained his only submission victory via armlock. Then, he made his lone appearance in his home country for M-1 opposite Lee Jong-Hwa. Choi earned a TKO stoppage due to punches in the second round. Three months later, Choi went back to Japan and made his debut for DEEP. He lost a disappointingly close split decision to Yusuke Kagiyama in Osaka.

After a loss, most fighters would be down on their luck, but not the South Korean,; he reeled off nine straight wins with seven of them coming via KO/TKO. His first significant win was over PRIDE and Strikeforce veteran Mitsuhiro Ishida. Against the experienced Greco-Roman wrestler, Choi defended multiple takedown attempts with ease. Once he got free to let his diverse striking attack flourish, Choi caught Ishida with a knee while he was coming in for another takedown; as a result, Ishida was asleep near the ropes.

In his last fight before signing with the UFC, “The Korean Superboy” was matched up against former Lightweight King of Pancrase Shoji Maruyama at DEEP: Cage Impact 2013. Arguably the fight of the year in 2013, these competitors went to war for the first seven minutes of the fight. After being rocked a few times in the opening frame, Choi came back with an upkick on the ground and then finished Maruyama on the feet with a solid right hand to the jaw. Many consider this fight to be the victory that put 23-year old Choi on the map.


Juan Manuel Puig (11-3)

Representing Mexico City, Mexico, Puig started off as a fan of MMA and then joined a gym at the young age of eighteen. After only training for a few months, he had his first professional fight. Even though it was not a successful debut, he was hooked and continued on to make it to the UFC. He has competed most of his career at lightweight, however for this event he will be making his first appearance as a featherweight.

“Fenix” has most of his experience fighting in Mexico, where he accumulated eight wins and two losses. The most significant moment for Puig while competing there was his win over current UFC lightweight Akbarh Arreola at Xtreme Kombat. For most of the first round, they traded shots on the feet and went to the ground for brief moments, then the 25-year old Mexican got Arreola against the fence and started catching him with straight punches continuously. The referee had enough and stopped the fight late in the first round.

Then, he went down to Brazil to battle at Jungle Fight 57 and 64. At both of those events, Puig won via submission late in the first round against Alan Barros and Bruno Batista.

After an impressive six fight winning streak, he was called up to make his debut for the UFC at The Ultimate Fighter 19 Finale in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, “Fenix” rushed in with his chin not tucked and was knocked out cold by a right hook by Adriano Martins in the first round. It was the first knockout loss of his career.


UFC FN 57 Choi Doo-Ho vs Juan Manuel Puig
UFC FN 57 Choi Doo-Ho vs Juan Manuel Puig


Choi vs Puig: Fight Analysis

This fight has quite a storyline to it. Choi will be making his long-awaited debut and Juan Manuel Puig will basically be fighting for his job. The South Korean has been out for over a year and fighting for the first time in the United States, while “Fenix” will be cutting down to featherweight for the first time in his career and coming off his first knockout loss.

Puig making his first cut down to featherweight could be beneficial or detrimental, only time will tell. “Fenix” will probably be bigger come fight night, so he should be able to use that to his advantage. Since most of his wins are by submission, he needs to take this fight to the ground immediately. The size advantage will come in handy while he is grinding his foe from the top position. He also needs to focus on trying to fatigue his opponent so he can work for armlocks or chokes. In fact, he possesses seven wins by submission; therefore, there is always a chance he might pull one off.

Choi is an aggressive and powerful striker with a solid chin. He has a diverse arsenal of strikes that includes straight punches, uppercuts, and knees. He uses feints and cuts angles to setup combinations from all directions. Choi also has displayed effortless takedown defense against wrestlers as seen in the Ishida fight. And if he is taken down, Choi has the ability to get right back up and continue assaulting his opponent on the feet. Eight of his eleven victories are by KO/TKO, so he will be looking to finish this fight.

This contest will be striker, Choi, versus grappler, Puig. Choi will be looking to keep this fight standing so he can utilize his advantages. From the start, the South Korean will use combinations to get the attention of Puig, and then he will start to throw knees because “Fenix” will most likely be going for takedowns to avoid striking on the feet. Once he sees Puig hurt, Choi will aggressively pursue the finish until it is over. On the other hand, Puig will be trying to prolong the fight to grind out a victory. He will need to use his size and strength to keep his opponent on his back. If he tries to stand and trade with Choi it will be an unpleasant night for the Mexican.