UFC Manila preview: get to know the three Korean fighters

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UFC Manila Lim Hyun-Gyu
UFC Manila Lim Hyun-Gyu

UFC Manila will take place at the Mall of Asia Arena in the Philippines on May 16, 2015. There will be three Korean fighters featured on the event.

Lim Hyun-Gyu is the welterweight giant from Korean Top Team. His teammate Bang Tae-Hyun joins him on the main card. Nam Yui-Chul opens up the evening with his match.

Lim Hyun-Gyu

Lim Hyun-Gyu is now 3-1 in the UFC and delivering incredible performances each time he enters the Octagon. His scope and deadly striking have translated well to the higher level of competition. Already with two fight of the night accolades, he’s definitely increasing his stock.

How did he get here? Before his UFC career, Lim won the PXC Welterweight title in dominant fashion. His training in Korean Top Team means he’s training like a maniac. Seriously. These guys do crazy stuff. Lim’s coach, Ha Dong-Jin, has fielded so many professional fighters in MMA competition that he’s developed a keen eye to not only devise a game plan but to adapt it in a fight as well. This may sound obvious, yet KTT’s repeated success shows that their cookie cutter approach works. ¬†And Lim listens, as he proved in spades during his five round war with Tarec Saffiedine that saw him leave the cage on one leg.

So, this guy, wow. Lim will now face Neil Magny. It’s the first time Lim’s faced someone his reach and his talents. Magny has good hands, but is likely in recent outings to drop his hands and take shots. He can’t do that against Lim. And if Lim decides he wants to go to the ground, well, Kim Dong-Hyun said he’s a real threat there and that’s some pretty high accolades. Lim versus Magny will be a barn-burner.

Nam Yui-Chul

UFC ManilaNam Yui-Chul
UFC Manila Nam Yui-Chul

Nam Yui-Chul got his mandatory military duty out of the way before he ever started MMA. He began fighting in Korea’s Spirit MC where he blasted through all the first generation fighters to earn the welterweight championship. Nam then became a mainstay in Legend FC and ROAD FC, where his rivalries with Adrian Pang, Vuyisile Colossa and Takasuke Kume became history. Nam’s brutality was only matched and truped by Jadamba Narantungalag for the Legend FC Lightweight title. But he got a second chance at glory by earning the ROAD FC belt.

Nam has evolved as a fighter and as a person through the last two years. Losing to Jadamba fueled the changes. He was always seen as a bad boy inside and outside of combat, yet is devoutly religious. When Nam fought Kume for the ROAD FC title, the changes manifested a hundred fold. He was now smiling and gracious in person, and his cage work was smothering intelligent aggression.

After his first UFC fight a year ago, a nasty war with Kazuki Tokudome, Nam took time off to recover from injury and be on TV. Now he’ll welcome back Phillipe Nover to the UFC in a mutual first time bid at featherweight. Nover is good on the ground, he’s well rounded, and he’s hungry. These two know they need to prove they are worthy UFC caliber fighters. Nam gets fueled by adversity, and if that means his aggression is turned up by minor increments, there will be epic violence in the cage.

Bang Tae-Hyun

UFC Manila Bang Tae-Hyun
UFC Manila Bang Tae-Hyun

Bang Tae-Hyun was one of the first generation of Korean fighters, a decade ago, and he has always exemplified what it means to be an MMA fighter in Korea. He fought in a few smaller home grown events, then made the best decision to fight in Japan’s DEEP. And it was a boon for him, as he took out now current DEEP Champion Kazunori Yokota. After that, he jumped up big time to Sengoku and lost back to back fights with Takanori Gomi and Jorge Masvidal. Two more uneventful matches and he made the decision to break for military service.

Bang came back with an easy win at the first Top FC and then landed a gig in PXC. His bout was highly lauded but the deal was off due to missed weight. Still, he got the attention of the UFC from his high profile bouts in the past, and it landed him a match with Mairbek Taisumov. Coach Ha would later claim that Bang’s performance was his fault through the game plan he devised, but whatever the case, Bang’s hype train looked like it might derail. Fortunately against Kajan Johnson his huge KO fists came into play and earned him a performance of the night bonus.

Bang will meet Jon Tuck, an opponent his team knows well from their days together in PXC. This is a fight that very well could have happened in that promotion if their careers hadn’t jumped into the big leagues. Tuck is a decorated grappler with heavy hands of his own. What they share is that they both have an on switch that they need to find in order to win, and they both need to finish. Whoever finds that switch first will be the finisher.