ROAD FC 23 preview: BW title Lee Yoon-Jun vs Moon Jea-Hoon has fight of the year potential

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ROAD FC Bantamweight title match Lee Yun-Jun vs Moon-Jea-Hoon
ROAD FC Bantamweight title match Lee Yun-Jun vs Moon-Jea-Hoon

Bantamweight Champion Lee Yoon-Jun will make his first title defense against TKD master Moon Jea-Hoon at ROAD FC 23 on Saturday, May 2nd, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea.

When the first ever ROAD FC Bantamweight Champion, Kang Kyung-Ho, decided to take his talents to the UFC, he relinquished his belt and a tournament ensued. Lee Yoon-Jun and Moon Jea-Hoon were part of the group that battled it out for the vacant bantamweight strap.

In the tournament quarterfinals at ROAD FC 11, Lee dispatched Kim Ho-Jun with punches in less than a minute and Moon won a very close split decision over Shoko Sato to advance.

On the same night, the semifinals were held but unfortunately for both combatants, they lost. Lee was choked out by Song Min-Jong, the current interim Flyweight Champion, in the opening frame and Lee Gil-Woo TKO’d Moon in the first with punches.

Lee Gil-Woo eventually went on to defeat Song Min-Jong in the tournament final at ROAD FC 12 via split decision to become only the second bantamweight champion in the history of the Korean promotion.

After losing in the tournament, Lee Yoon-Jun turned into a different animal and went on a six-fight winning streak, ultimately capturing the bantamweight crown by demolishing Lee Gil-Woo at ROAD FC 20.

During the streak, Lee out-shined all of his opponents. The Team One mainstay had three first round TKO finishes over fighters such as Brazilian ground specialist Thiago Silva and former bantamweight champ Lee. The other three victories came via Unanimous Decision in which Lee was dominating every aspect of each contest.

Moon Jea-Hoon, on the other hand, has had a rockier path to his chance at the belt.

In his first fight after getting knocked out of the bantamweight tournament, Moon faced Thiago Silva at ROAD FC: Korea 3. The Octagon Gym representative controlled most of the fight with his superior striking on the feet and worked some ground and pound. However, in the third round, Silva surged back, landed a takedown and easily moved into position for an arm triangle. Once Silva adjusted his arms to tighten the choke, Moon had no answer and tapped almost instantly.

Coming off back-to-back losses, Moon then took on UFC veteran Marcos Vinicius at ROAD FC 18. Moon looked the best he ever has, displaying a more diverse striking attack which led him to finish Vinicius with body shots in the opening frame.

Nevertheless, his next fight against young up-and-comer Kim Min-Woo would not be as simple. Moon survived being rocked and knocked down in the first to win by a controversial Majority Decision.

All this history has led these two warriors to meet head-to-head in the cage for the coveted bantamweight belt.

Lee vs Moon: Fight Analysis

ROAD FC Bantamweight Champ Lee Yun-Jun punches
ROAD FC Bantamweight Champ Lee Yun-Jun punches

Champion: Lee Yoon-Jun
MMA Record: 8 Wins (5 TKO/KOs, 3 Decisions), 2 Losses (2 Submissions)
Team: Team One
Years Pro: 4.5 years
Ways to Win: The keys for the champ to finish this fight are pressure, grappling, and ground strikes.

From the sound of the bell, Lee will need to keep moving forward while trading on the feet. Moon likes to keep his hands low so this might allow Lee to connect with his overhand right. Either way, this will have Moon on his heels, not allowing him to set up combinations as easily.

Once Lee gets Moon close to the fence, Lee will clinch and press him against it. Using short punches and hard knees will keep Moon on the defensive, making it hard to get out of that position. He exhibited this in his previous fight against Lee Gil-Woo, when he connected with consecutive knees to the head which led to the headkick knockout a few moments later.

By that time, Moon will be busy covering up to slow the onslaught. That is when Lee will drop down and dump his opponent on his back. As seen in the Thiago Silva fight, Moon does not do a good job defending from his back so Lee will use his superior grappling skills to put himself into an optimal position.

From there, he has two options: ground and pound or submission. Looking at his history, Lee will probably opt for the former since he does not have any wins via submission. But maybe he might surprise the viewing public and pull off something we never seen before from the young champion.

ROAD FC's Moon Jea-Hoon kicks
ROAD FC’s Moon Jea-Hoon kicks

Challenger: Moon Jea-Hoon
MMA Record: 8 Wins (3 TKO/KOs, 5 Decisions), 6 Losses (1 TKO/KOs, 2 Submissions, 3 Decisions)
Team: Octagon Gym
Years Pro: 6 years
Ways to Win: The challenger, Moon, needs to focus on these aspects to occupy the throne of the bantamweight division: speed, leg kicks and takedown defense.

It is no secret that Moon is probably the quickest in the division and possesses the best footwork of any fighter on the ROAD FC roster. The combination of these two attributes will become huge if utilized properly. Moon needs to dance circles around Lee and try to frustrate him with his elusiveness. He will have to jump in and out the pocket to avoid the powerful right hand. Moon has to practice patience and keep fighting from distance, basically, emulating the fighting style of how UFC flyweight Kyoji Horiguchi bounces around the cage.

From afar, he has to continuously attack the legs. Lee does not check leg kicks and just eats them most of the time. Over a period of time, those shots will accumulate and do damage that will slow down the champ and make him switch stances when he does not intend to. As a result, this will open up the body and the head for that finishing blast.

The final and most important part for Moon to focus on is his takedown defense. Lee will attempt takedowns if he is losing during the striking exchanges. It is imperative that his back never hits the mat. Lee is the more dominant grappler and Moon will not want to test him there.

Final Thoughts

It is known that these two, Champion Lee Yoon-Jun and challenger Moon Jea-Hoon, have been training partners in the past. Even though they do not train together anymore, their history together makes this matchup a very captivating main event.

In all likelihood, this is going to be a strikefest that could go down as one of the greatest fights in ROAD FC bantamweight history. Considering both these fighters have zero submissions to their names, Lee will probably go out there and try to beat Moon at his own game and challenge him on the feet. This can work out either way and that is what will make this a fun fight to watch.

Lee, 26, has elevated his overall game in the past two years and this is evident from his accomplishments. He has shown that he can mix it up with any type of fighter that is put in front of him at any time. A successful title defense will make it seven in a row and therefore solidify him as one of the best bantamweights in Asia.

With two Korean fighters, “The Korean Zombie” Jung Chan-Sung and Kang Kyung-Ho, on the shelf due to their mandatory military service, this will definitely catch the eye of the UFC. It seems like everything is coming together for the young South Korean at the right time. Therefore, if Lee wants to make it the big time he needs to perform and finish Moon in spectacular fashion.

Moon, 31, is in a different situation than his counterpart. He is in his prime and winning the title will definitely be the crowning achievement of his career thus far. Although he is older and has been around the game longer, he is getting better as shown in his previous two outings. The question lies in whether he can put it all together at the right moment to snatch the title.

However, time is not on his side, so this might be his one and only opportunity to have the strap wrapped around his waist – there are many new prospects coming up in the ranks. The bantamweight stable is growing every time ROAD FC throws an event. Losing this fight will most likely put Moon as the gatekeeper of the bantamweight division unless he moves to a different weight class.

In short, Lee will be looking to establish himself as an undeniable force and not a one and done champ. At the same time, Moon will try to validate a career of ups and downs with the ever elusive title belt. At the end of the day, these alternating scenarios make this title matchup all the more interesting.