Do not let the cute unassuming quiet college student look that Doo Ho Choi has about him fool you, he is without a doubt one of the major Stars On The Rise to look out for in the sport of MMA.
He fights at 145 pounds, he fights out of Gumi MMA gym in South Korea, and he has been a professional MMA fighter since 2009. His 3-0 record he has accumulated since joining the UFC in 2014 and 14-1 overall MMA record really do speak for themselves. In the sport of MMA, if you come into the largest MMA organisation in the world (UFC) and you win your first three fights with ease, then you know you are likely looking at a future title contender.
Sure he has a way to go before anyone can say definitely say he will hold a belt or challenge for one, but beating Juan Manuel Puig, Sam Sicilia and Thiago Tavares all by first round KO at only 25 years old really says a lot to me.
To put it simply its his striking which is so precise, technical and powerful that has given him his success thus far in MMA, in his highly impressive 14-1 record he has 11 KOs to his name, which is a devastating 79% of the way he wins.
His nickname is “The Korean Superboy” which is very fitting for me, because like I said in the first sentence, he has that kind of Clark Kent unassuming student look to him, but once combat begins, he truly transforms before peoples eyes you could say.
Heres a video that illustrates why Doo Ho Choi is is a true Star On The Rise in the UFC:
As you can see, his movement in and out of range is beautiful, excellent foot positioning, he has power and precision that really is phenomenal, and what is even more interesting to note, is that Doo Ho Choi really does not have a life long martial arts pedigree. He basically just started training MMA straight after high school and naturally developed an awesome all round game, with his Boxing/Muay Thai game becoming specialist, along with his natural power to blow through his opponents.
He has that kind of fast twitch power that really shocks his opponents, you can even see it on the face of some of his opponents – as Choi starts cautiously moving around, the opponents look at him and think something like –
“this guy is just moving around being technical, he looks pretty young and unassuming, he cant hurt me, i will step forward into the pocket”.
Then in an instant with incredible speed when Choi lands a precise and explosive right hand to his opponent, you can literally see his opponents thinking –
“what the fuck did i just get hit with? Jesus christ he hits so hard, I’ve got to get out of here”.
Then invariably that is the last thoughts Choi’s opponents likely have before their consciousness is shut off, and the referee stops the fight. On a side note here I also like the fact that when Choi lands a big shot that he knows has knocked out his opponent, he rarely keeps throwing shots until the ref literally is pulling him off, he stops himself, its the sign of an elite striker, very reminiscent of the legendary Heavyweight Mark Hunt, who made his walk away KO a trademark in his career.
To me this shows that while Choi wants to win the fight and has a great finishing instinct, he is not a mindless animal lost in aggressive emotions when the finish arises in front of him. Choi is cool, calm and collected, he knows his power, and knows when his opponent is out and the fight is over and will walk away when he knows its done. Remember that shots to the head of a person that is unconscious is incredibly dangerous for potential brain damage of that person, so I always respect fighters that know their own power and are in control of their emotions when the KO shot comes.
In terms of holes I see in his game and what Choi could improve upon is very simple –
- first off for as good as his striking is, with some beautiful 1-2 combos, particularly his jab-cross, which is sublime, just watch the combo he hit Thiago Tavares with for the finish in his last UFC bout – beautiful. Still though I feel that there will be fights in the future where he will have to increase his volume of strikes – how often have we seen powerful young strikers through the years not being able to beat the elite fighters of the UFC purely because of not throwing enough volume of strikes during a 3 -5 round fight? Plenty – a powerful single strike can put away many opponents in MMA, but when you get to the top 10 fighters of the UFC, then guys don’t often get put away as easily, so the ability to utilise precise, technical and powerful combinations consistently across 3-5 rounds becomes a huge factor in winning fights.
- Secondly his wrestling needs to continue to improve, I mean he has a decent sprawl, but its not elite yet, he hasn’t faced any elite wrestlers yet, and I don’t think I have ever seen him shoot for his own take down as his game is predicated around striking on the feet. Effective wrestling attack/defence is again one of the defining factors of the elite top 10 UFC fighters. Choi is South Korean, and he trains in South Korea, which as a nation has produced some great MMA fighters like Chang Sung Jung, Dong Hyun Kim, Hyun Gyu Lim and many others. I highly suggest that at some point in the future to further his career, it is pivotal that Doo Ho Choi spends some time training in some of the best wrestling gyms in the world, which will mean travelling to countries like America or Russia for example.
- Get that BJJ to black belt level, or purple-black level, which again will assist you in being able to defend/attack against some of the best BJJ based fighters in the top 10. However this is always improving as South Korea has many great BJJ fighters and Choi does have a singular MMA victory via a beautiful armbar, so his BJJ will continue to improve.
Other then that, I guess you could say that Choi’s chin has not been tested yet, but I never hold that against a fighter, because, in 15 professional MMA fights, if your not getting hit enough for people to know if you have a good chin or not – then that means your not getting hit much in fights, which is the aim of unarmed combat – hurt your opponent and try to limit the amount you get hurt, which means his striking awareness/defence is very good, which is the reason why Choi’s chin hasn’t been tested much in his MMA career thus far, he is so calculated in his movements.
However, you can guarantee that Doo Ho Choi’s chin will likely be tested more then any fight before in his upcoming bout at UFC 206 with UFC veteran contender and striking ace Cub Swanson – this will be the best all round MMA fighter that Choi will have faced, and the striking quality that Swanson brings to the octagon will without doubt test Choi in a way we have not yet seen.
While I do like Cub Swanson as a martial artist, I truly believe Doo Ho Choi will pass this test by defeating Swanson in unarmed combat in the UFC octagon. From my perspective we are looking at a force of nature, an incredible talent, and in my opinion a future champion at 145 pounds in the UFC, which would certainly bring a lot more UFC events to the South Korean district.
There has been talk about Choi possibly having to join the South Korean military for 2 years, which is mandatory for all South Korean citizens. However I have heard rumblings that it is possible that Choi will be given an exemption, which has happened for South Korean athletes before, and I think would indicate that the South Korean Government know how special Doo Ho Choi is at MMA, and how likely it is that he will be a future champion.
I for one will be following his career intently, so I am so excited to see him in action again, and you can be sure that any updates will be posted right here at the MMA Gateway.
Any comments, questions or feedback then let me know, and if you want to start training MMA yourself, or add a new bow to your strings with your current training schedule, then have a look at THIS SYSTEM.
Thanks for reading.