When Kevin “Oldboy” Chung arrived on the scene at ONE: Light of a Nation in June and smashed Zhong Qing Ya in the second round of his promotional debut, fans quickly realized there is a new top contender in the mix in ONE Championship’s bantamweight division.
At 24-years-old, Chung debuted in ONE Championship after an impressive 4-0 start to his career in the United States. With impressive victories at Shogun Fights and Strike Off, Chung had gained much-needed experience inside the cage to supplement his amateur career and also acquired a taste of success.
It wasn’t just the fans who recognized Chung’s untapped potential, however, as the organization has scheduled the South Korean martial artist against Kevin Belingon, who is experiencing a career resurgence. Belingon looked to be approaching another shot at the ONE Bantamweight World Championship after making short work of the talented Reece McLaren at ONE: Quest for Greatness. But now, ONE Championship have put two of their best bantamweight martial artists against each other to determine who is more worthy of challenging Bibiano Fernandes.
Facing "The Silencer"
Despite his spectacular debut at ONE: Light of a Nation, Chung recently spoke about how he is 'not the same athlete that he was in June' and he extended on these comments in a conversation with RealSport:
I've had the pleasure of drilling, sparring, and learning from high-level grapplers and strikers during this camp. Obviously practice and fight night are two different animals, however, I tend to see myself performing best under bright lights. Kevin Belingon will not show anything that I haven't seen before.
While many of the elite fighters in the organization are highly skilled in one particular area of mixed martial arts, Chung enters the ONE Championship cage proficient in all areas of the sport. Whether it was standing up, or the finishing series of knees to the head of his grounded opponent, Chung showcased his outstanding abilities at his ONE Championship debut. Chung commented on what he believes to be his greatest strengths:
I believe my ability to work out of bad positions and situations is a strength. Whether it is standing or on the ground, I find a way to score and look for a finish.
Chung's ability to fight out of any situation and outwork opponents whether on the feet or on the mat will continue to be his greatest strength. More than ever, Chung's versatile approach to mixed martial arts is required against "The Silencer", who has previously shown that he can end a night earlier than expected.
Kevin Belingon is no joke and not the fighter he was even a year or two ago, but I believe I am more polished in areas that will help me win this fight.
Path of destruction
Intrigued by Chung's nickname "Oldboy", we correctly assumed that it was related to the 2003 South Korean film.
Yes, Oldboy (2003) is one of my favorite films of all time. I've shared it with teammates and friends who all enjoy the film as much as I do. I feel like I resonate with the main protagonist in the film a lot, which is why I chose to go by that over the others.
For those unfamiliar, the protagonist of the film (Dae-su Oh) escapes prison to go on a violent path of destruction to find his captor. While there is an endless number of potential interpretations of the film and Dae-su Oh's story, we like to think Kevin's resonation with the character is because he too is about to begin a path of destruction to achieve what he has been longing. Much different to the protagonist of this film, Kevin Chung is seeking the ONE Bantamweight World Championship.
We asked Kevin if he believes that ONE Championship will grant him an opportunity at Bibiano Fernandes if he defeats Kevin Belingon:
I have no idea. My division has a few very polished and experienced guys I would love to face, but I think I match up with Bibiano Fernandes very well and can challenge him in ways his previous opponents could not. All I know is that every time I step in the cage, I look to put on a great performance.
What's next for Kevin Chung?
With ONE Championship expanding into the South Korean market next year, there is a realization that a win over Belingon could mean the start of a tremendous next 12 months for "Oldboy".
We asked Kevin how he envisions himself by the time ONE Championship arrives in South Korea in July 2018:
By then, I will have that much more experience in preparing for and performing on a world stage. I am always looking to better my skills and become the best martial artist I can be. It would be a great experience and I definitely look forward to putting on a show for fans in Korea.
A victory at ONE: Legends of the World and a potential title fight against Bibiano Fernandes could see Chung feature highly on the promotions debut performance in the country.
The beginnings of what could be a spectacular career for Kevin Chung continues at ONE: Legends of the World on November 10.
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