When the UFC went to Seoul, South Korea for the first time, it seemed like there was a good chance that they'd be picking up some new Korean MMA talent. The country has an active MMA scene and has already produced several notable fighters for the promotion. And, true to form, the UFC has picked up a new fighter or two. They brought back middleweight talent Dongi Yang for another try, three and a half years after his first failed run in Zuffa. And now, they've picked up a new face... Dong Hyun Kim?
Who is Dong Hyun Kim?
"The Maestro" as he is known is a 27-year-old lightweight fighting out of Busan Team M.A.D. in Busan, South Korea. It is, in fact, the same team as his much more notable namesake "Stun Gun." It's also the gym that developed Seohee Ham and Kyung Ho Kang along side a deep roster of regional talent. Dong Hyun sports a somewhat uninspiring 13-6-3 record on his way to the UFC, but has been much improved of late, going 7-1 since 2011, after starting his career 6-5-3. With only one submission stoppage loss and the rest of his early losses by two round decision, it has the hallmarks of a somewhat deceiving record in terms of his current quality. His only recent loss comes to longtime regional standout and former UFC fighter Kuniyoshi Hironaka. Otherwise the Maestro's record isn't terribly notable. Most of his wins and losses come to middling journeymen, with the occasional can crushed, about what you'd expect from a fighter who has spent a lot of time on the J-MMA scene.
What you should expect:
Dong Hyun has an interesting, and slighly strange combination of skills. He's somewhat of a lazy range kicker, and a power boxer in the pocket, throwing big single shots, or doubling and tripling up with the same punch when he gets the chance. He's got good footwork and a high striking workrate, but he seems to think his movement is better than it is and eats a lot of shots just by sitting in range with his hands down looking for opportunities. When he gets the chance, Maestro has a great clinch game both with strong knees to the body and a good arsenal of elbow strikes. He'll even mix it up with a bodylock, trip takedown if his opponent won't give him a chance to strike in the clinch. He's got great ground and pound and maintains a top ride well while striking.
The flip side of that is that, much like his striking defense his wrestling is very offense focused. He tends to get keyed in while striking and can get caught flat footed with reactive takedowns. Once on the mat and not in dominant positions, he's a decent scrambler and good athlete, but as his numerous decision losses and his more recent submission loss shows, he's not impossible to out wrestle or grapple. The end result is a fun offensive fighter who will run into trouble against guys he can't hurt.
What this means for his debut:
Fortunately for Dong Hyun, his first UFC opponent fits really nicely into what the Maestro does best. Steele is a brawler first and foremost and not a very fast one. His wrestling game is almost entirely power based, and he doesn't have much in the way of a reactive or punishing double leg. Steele is very likely going to stand in front of Kim and try to trade bombs. In that kind of scenario, Kim's greater diversity, speed, footwork, and strong chin will probably be the deciding factor. It's worth noting that Dong Hyun is making his debut in the UFC at WW, and will probably drop to lightweight afterward.
To get us better acquainted, here's his April fight against Toshikatsu Harada at TOP FC 6: