"The Korean Superboy" is something of an MMA phenom. At age 22 he sports a 11-1 record that finds him currently riding a nine fight win streak, with seven of those wins by TKO. And while it's been teased for the better part of the last month, it appears that the featherweight fighting pride of Gumi MMA has finally found his way to the octagon. Fight Sports Asia has the report of his signing.
Choi is a Deep MMA product fighting almost his entire career under Japanese promotions. Unlike many fighters on the Japanese regional scene he's a proven knockout artist with a long string of victories over decent (if not necessarily great) competition. The biggest fights of his career so far are have been Mitsuhiro Ishida and Nobuhiro Obiya, not necessarily household names, but fighters with a strong reputation and a history of facing good opposition. Choi defeated both fighters by knockout.
He trains out of Gumi MMA, where, like many Asian prospects, he is the biggest name fighter at his gym. The fact that it's a gym that has found little success outside of Choi may mean that a change of environment will be in his future as he moves into his UFC career. At 5' 9" Choi is also, like many of his South Korean UFC counterparts, well suited for his division. Coupled with his knockout power and dynamic striking he has all the natural and learned tools to carry himself a long way in the sport.
Looking beyond his obvious striking strength to his fighting game as a whole, a few things stand out. First and foremost, he's not just a brawler. Choi moves very well to slip punches, not just with his body and head movement, but with decent footwork as well. He cuts angles with his strikes and gets out of range after combinations. He's also something of a rarity in that, as a reasonably technical striker, he's not a counter puncher and fights with a lot of aggression. This isn't to say he's necessarily the second coming. While he's definitely one of the worlds top featherweight prospects, his fight against middling journeyman Shoji Maruyama should raise some red flags.
Choi carries his chin high and out at almost all times, and while he moves well, he doesn't move as well as he'd like when dodging combinations. In some ways his performance reminded me of Alistair Overeem, one moment a brilliant technical striker, the next a punching bag about to lose consciousness. His top control and grappling are also a bit suspect as he lost full mount not once, but twice in his fight against Maruyama.
All said Choi is another great South Korean prospect and I expect big things from him in his time in the UFC, but he does have some rough edges that will need refining and some technical gaps to fill if he wants to find long term success at the highest level. No opponent or debut date has been set for Doo Ho Choi as of yet.
For those that haven't seen it, here's his all out war against Maruyama. For a slightly more patient, technical, and higher def look at his fighting style check out his second to last bout against Tatsunao Nagakura.
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