Fresh off a knockout victory at the recently concluded Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight bout in Las Vegas, Nevada, South Korean fighter Choi Doo-ho said he is ready to become UFC’s first Asian champion.
Dubbed as the “Korean Superboy,” Choi has earned his third UFC after successfully demolishing veteran Thiago Tavares in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Season 23 Finale on Friday, reported Yonhap News.
“Among the Asian fighters, I think I’m the closest to the championship title,” said the 25-year-old Choi at a press conference. “I’m confident and I know I have to do it.”
Choi has previously defeated Sam Sicilia and Juan Manuel Puig, both via knock-outs in the first round. He has climbed the ranks and has become one of UFC’s hottest prospects by securing a 3-0 standing. His overall MMA record is now 14-1.
The reigning UFC featherweight champion is currently Irish fighter Conor McGregor, however Choi has expressed that he is not gunning to defeat McGregor alone to claim the title.
“Becoming a champion means that you’re the strongest fighter in the world,” he said. “If you want to become a champion, you need to have skills to beat everyone, not just one fighter.”
Korean fighters have had strong presence in the UFC before. Fellow South Koreans Jung Chan-sung, popularly known as “Korean Zombie,” and Kim Dong-hyun, dubbed “Stun Gun,” have paved the way for other Asian fighters to dominate in the UFC.
“I don’t think I’m ahead of Jung and Kim,” Choi said. “I was able to get my opportunities because they showed Asian fighters can more than hold their ground. I still have lots of things to improve, but I’m gradually moving forward.”
His coach, Yang Sung-hoon has complete faith and confidence that Choi will eventually become the UFC champion. He recognizes Choi’s his ability to knock down opponents as being “a genius” of the sport.
“If Choi can take on opponents with better footwork and longer reach, I think he can be the champion,” Yang said. “Unlike other fighters, Choi enjoys working out and likes training. He is not a guy who pushes himself and burns out.”
According to Choi, having the mindset of a champion will help him realize his dream. “I’m just happy that I can have a bout at the UFC,” he said. “I want to put on performances that can raise fans’ expectations and also get them excited.”
The Korean Superboy, who began his training to fight in 2008 at a Jiu-Jitsu academy, recently graduated from Gumi Kyungun University with a degree in Security.