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‘Korean Superboy’ says he’s ready for upcoming UFC bout

Dec 22,2017
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Mixed martial arts fighter Choi Doo-ho, right, trains at Team MAD gym in Busan on Wednesday. [YONHAP]
Korean mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Choi Doo-ho said Wednesday that he is not afraid of having a five-round bout when he competes at an upcoming Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event.

Choi will headline the UFC Fight Night 124 in St. Louis with Jeremy Stephens on Jan. 14. The 26-year-old will have his first fight since losing to Cub Swanson last December.

While his year-long absence from the Octagon could be a concern, Choi will also have his first five-round fight since making his MMA debut in 2009.

Choi, nicknamed “the Korean Superboy,” said he isn’t afraid of having a five-round fight.

“I felt my stamina was a problem during my bout against Swanson,” Choi told reporters at a media event in Busan. “So I’ve prepared a lot this time. Since it’s a five-round fight, I think I can show many different things.”

Choi, currently ranked 12th in the featherweight division, said he is confident about performing in a main event.

“You’re going to have a five-round fight anyway when your ranking goes up,” he said. “With that open mind, I’ve worked hard. I’m all right with five-round fights.”

Choi also said he’s not worried about his extended absence from the Octagon.

In St. Louis, Choi won’t be the only Korean in action. Kang Kyung-ho will return to the Octagon for the first time since September 2014 to take on Argentine bantamweight fighter Guido Cannetti.

“Kyung-ho is making a comeback even after sitting out longer than I did,” he said. “I know he is also going to win, so I don’t have any concern on my comeback.”

Choi, who won his first three UFC fights by first round knockout, said what really matters is his mental strength. If Choi loses to Stephens, it will be his first back-to-back defeats in his MMA career.

“When I was on a winning streak, I never thought I would lose,” he said. “But after I lost to Swanson, I knew how losing felt. Because of that defeat, I feel pressure, but this pressure makes me work harder.”

Stephens, a veteran who has been fighting in the UFC since 2007, will be competing in his third UFC main event. The 31-year-old American, currently ranked eighth, has an MMA record of 26 wins and 14 losses, but only one knockout defeat.

“People say Stephens’ punch is strong, but so is mine,” he said. “We both haven’t suffered many knockout defeats. Stephens has power and experience, but he looks slow.”

Choi, who has 14 wins and two losses in MMA fighting, said he wants to have a return match against Swanson after facing Stephens.

“I think I can collect a victory and a bonus,” he said. “After defeating Stephens, I want to fight Swanson again.”

Yonhap