The patented right hand of Doo Ho Choi passed its most significant test last Friday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena when Thiago Tavares met the canvas midway through the first round of their main card curtain raiser.
The nine-year UFC Brazilian veteran has claimed three bonuses in as many outings as a featherweight. Two submissions over Robert Peralta and Clay Guida put a little more weight in his pocket and even when he lost to top prospect Brian Ortega he was rewarded with a ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus.
South Korean fans would have been worried when the Brazilian managed to take Choi to the ground in the early exchanges. Yet, the Busan Team MAD fighter looked as cool as ever as he looked to get back his feet. He has the same quality exhibited by Gunnar Nelson and Fedor Emelianenko, where he almost looks like he could be waiting on a bus during the most intense exchanges.
Tavares’ grappling assault began in the first ten seconds of the fight, but after two minutes and thirty seconds, it was his back that was against the fence as Choi launched his striking assault. The right-hand landed once, but the second time it connected Tavares completely folded onto the ground. Herb Dean stopped the contest a second later.
“People normally think of Koreans being very humble, but when the fight start I’m all confident,” said Choi in his post-fight interview. “I want to thank my coach who came up with a great strategy. It turned out very well.”
“Obviously, I knocked him down and I was hoping to get the knockdown today. The referee stopped it a little bit earlier than I thought he should have, but it ended nicely.”
Touch of Death
Currently on a twelve fight win streak with ten of those wins coming by way of knockout, Choi has the rare ability to knock people out with one punch as a featherweight. Although he stands in an opposite stance to the Irishman, his right hand has proven as potent as the ‘Celtic Cross’, the infamous straight left hand of the featherweight champion.
When breaking down Nate Diaz versus McGregor, the contet that boasted top billing at UFC 196, Tristar head coach Firas Zahabi claimed that the Irishman possesses the “touch of death” in his left hand. It can be argued that Choi, having finished all three of his UFC opponents by first round knockout—Juan Puig, Sam Sicilia, Tavares—boasts the same spectacular stopping power.
The fact that the 25-year-old is not an English speaker may hold him back in terms of gaining the attention of the masses as he climbs the 145 lbs ladder, but a victory over the right kind of opponent could send Choi’s stock soaring.
The Korean prospect must have his eyes on the future based on who he as called upon to be his next opponent. Should the bout be made, it would sure to be a matchup with guaranteed fireworks. A victory would also send the Korean right into the featherweight title conversation.
Where you at Cubby?
Choi called for a bout with perennial featherweight contender Cub Swanson after his first victory in the UFC over Puig. Speaking with MMAnytt.se after his big win in Vegas last night, Choi again called for a meeting with the knockout artist.
“In the post-fight interview I mentioned that I wanted to fight Cub Swanson,” Choi told MMAnytt.se through a translator. “I want to show the fans that Asians can be strong and can perform just as well as any fighters.”
“I know Cub would like to fight on the feet. He would like it to be a standup war. If he wants to fight on the feet I’ll fight him on my feet. If he wants to have a wrestling match, I’m ready for a wrestling match as well.”
Swanson certainly wouldn’t shy away from the striking exchanges with Choi, and that would give us a realistic idea of how good is striking really is. While Tavares is a great scalp for him to take in his third fight under the promotional banner, it still does not give us a realistic idea of how far ‘The Korean Superboy’ can go.
Only Max Holloway, Frankie Edgar, and Ricardo Lamas have managed to stop Swanson in ten bouts in the UFC, with all the losses coming by way of submission. Should Choi be able to dispose of Swanson with his hands he will capture the imagination of the MMA universe, and soon everyone would be calling for him to fight for the title.
Swanson currently sits in in the sixth spot in the UFC rankings, so it will be interesting to see if he wants a meeting with the young gun. At 32-years-old, he may prefer a more highly ranked opponent to get him back in the title chase.
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