There is something that needs to be said about Korean fighters. Even though Japan and Japanese fighters enjoyed being the first Asian country to train MMA and became its mecca 20 years earlier than the rest of Asia, its fighters have not transitioned to the UFC very well. Japan’s biggest stars; Kazushi Sakuraba, Genki Sudo, Takanori Gomi, Norifumi Yamamoto, and Shinya Aoki have all spent their primes fighting in Japan, but each having mixed results when it mattered, and that was fighting in the western hemisphere (UFC).
Being well versed in Boxing, Judo, and Taekwondo for many decades, Koreans have somewhat of a unique cultural upbringing that breeds great MMA fighters. We can’t quite put it to statistics or bring out a book to look at any solid facts, but we believe Koreans are born fighters. They’re the only country where you can get a university degree in martial arts, and they are a “manly” group of people in general. We believe a combination of possessing that strong Mongolian blood, a protein and vegetable-heavy Korean diet (as opposed to useless carbohydrates in other Asian diets), and living in harsh environments have molded them to being big, strong, and mean. In the ring, the fighting spirit of Korean fighters makes them entertaining, exciting, and aggressive fighters.
Korean fighters are definitely on the rise and have already made their mark in the UFC. This television documentary special takes a very interesting in-depth look at some of (South) Korea’s most prominent MMA fighters, how they came up, how their UFC debut was, and their defining moments so far in their careers. Check out the TV special, Ultimate Korean Fighters (turn on English subtitles using the Closed Captioning button):
What’s interesting to note in this television special is that unlike the UFC Countdown and Prime Time shows, this one took some time to ask fighters what their lives were like and how their family felt about them being fighters. Asian fighters definitely don’t get the respect or support they deserve in their countries because fighting is seen as a barbaric, ugly thing to do in Asian culture that is reserved for thugs and gangsters. Whereas in America, fighting is a sport where parents encourage their children to get into. More on this cultural difference in a future article, where we will dive in on just why Chinese fighters have yet to join in on the MMA party.