Song Ka Yeon, one of Asia’s top MMA prospects, discusses the journey so far (and what’s next)

Since making the move to Evolve MMA, 22-year-old Song Ka Yeon has finally been able to completely dedicate herself to mixed martial arts

It’s been nearly three years since Song Ka Yeon has competed in mixed martial arts.

While she experienced mixed results (1-1) at her time with ROAD FC, it wasn’t the result that was troubling. Ka Yeon was unfortunately exposed to a multitude of strange events that occurred during her time with the promotion. The events would blow out of proportion considering Ka Yeon’s meteoric rise to stardom in South Korea, thanks to her particular magnetism and having featured on shows such as “Roommate” (a celebrity TV similar to Big Brother).

It was a crippling set of circumstances for Ka Yeon, who was 19-years-old. Rather than being able to focus on her development as a fighter, she was drawn into politics with organizations and promotions. Ka Yeon explained:

When I first started MMA, I was always stressed out. They would only talk about my looks.

Now, Song Ka Yeon, on her quest to become a great mixed martial artist, has smartly stepped away from the distractions in South Korea and found a new home in Singapore with Evolve MMA.


With close ties to ONE Championship, Evolve MMA is churning out the biggest stars in the Asian MMA scene today; just look at the unforeseen growth of Angela Lee, Amir Khan and Christian Lee since walking through their doors in Singapore. Boasting an impressive list of accessible world champions and experienced instructors, it’s easy to see why they are attracting the best talent from around the world.

For a 22-year-old prospect with black belts in taekwondo, judo and hapkido who has only ever wanted to express herself through mixed martial arts, joining Evolve MMA was an easy decision for Song Ka Yeon.

Apparently, what’s not so easy, however, is joining Evolve MMA’s elite fight team.

Trial by fire

We asked Song Ka Yeon about the process of joining Evolve MMA, which included an intensive two-week tryout:

"It was hard training. We would train in the morning and afternoon. They pushed me a lot. I was training with black belt jiu-jitsu guys and Muay Thai world champions who were training me very hard; but I survived"

It's clear that Evolve MMA wanted to test the mentality of Song Ka Yeon with a 'trial by fire.' For anyone who has followed Ka Yeon's career closely, however, it's no surprise she survived the exhaustive two weeks of training. After all, martial arts is Song Ka Yeon's greatest passion. 14 days of doing something you love, no matter how tiring, is nothing compared to the years of hardship she had to endure to get to where she is today.

You could say that Song Ka Yeon's entire life has been a 'trial by fire' and through it all, just one thing has remained consistent - her love for martial arts.

A complete martial artist

After striving to be exceptional at taekwondo, judo, and hapkido, Song Ka Yeon received black belts in each of these martial arts at a young age. Earning the ultimate recognition in each of these respective forms of martial arts is no simple task. What's more impressive, however, is having the energy to start the climb all over again by learning a new form of martial art.

We asked Ka Yeon why she decided to learn and compete in mixed martial arts:

When I first saw MMA fighters training, I realized that this is my dream. It’s my dream because I can learn everything about martial arts; striking, grappling, wrestling. I like martial arts, I can love everything, so I choose MMA.

Personal and professional growth

One of the most memorable moments of our conversation with Ka Yeon was her response to what the greatest challenge has been in adapting to mixed martial arts. Ka Yeon, to our surprise, genuinely seemed as though she was unfamiliar with how learning any aspect of mixed martial arts could be a challenge and responded: "there is no big challenge."

As innocent and pure as the response was, it only highlights how Ka Yeon treats mixed martial arts as a path of improvement rather than a 'challenge'.

Every martial artist around the world is on their own path of improvement. For Ka Yeon, though, she is progressing faster than most, and she attributes this growth to many of her training partners at Evolve MMA:

Everyone is very humble at Evolve. When I first came here, I felt very respected. When I train with the world champions and black belts, I can feel that they are helping me. I'm not a black belt (BJJ) or a Muay Thai world champion, but they always help me.

Our conversation with Ka Yeon identified where her values lie. Despite her rapidly improving capabilities as a mixed martial artist, thanks to the many champions surrounding her, Ka Yeon continued to show respect for their ability to stay humble:

The world champions are very good and also very humble. They’ve made me very humble too. I like this environment. There are many fighters that are black belts or champions who want to be a show-off. But not here at Evolve.

Considering the plethora of top-tier martial artists that Song Ka Yeon could learn from at Evolve, we asked Ka Yeon for insight on who she has been training closely with:

Michelle Nicolini is my favorite person at Evolve, she helps me a lot. Not just jiu-jitsu, she’s a very humble person. She’s teaching me many things.

No gi, no problems

If you're wondering just how beneficial it must be to train closely with Michelle Nicolini, an eight-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt World Champion with almost 20 years of experience, and the numerous other talented jiu-jitsu practitioners at Evolve, the results from Song Ka Yeon's  latest no-gi grappling tournament speak for themselves.

Ka Yeon competed at the Dumau - Asian Open no-gi grappling competition in Singapore on September 23 and won both the Female Blue Adult Feather and Female Blue Adult Open Weight competitions with impressive submission finishes.

When asked about the tournament, she responded:

It was very fun. I wanted submissions, and I got submissions. It feels good. 

Ka Yeon's submissions included a triangle choke and armbar, but what caught our eye the most was the impressive strength, control, and power shown in the kimura setup. When asked about the kimura, Ka Yeon explained:

I learned the kimura from "Brodinho"  [Leandro Issa]. I like his style and technique. I don’t normally use kimura submissions, but this time it was there, and I finished it with the kimura.

To gain a further understanding of Ka Yeon's preferred style, we asked about her favorite submissions:

I don’t have favorite submissions. I like aggressive styles. I like takedowns. I don’t like to just get points; I want to take them down and finish them. 

In a moment of reflection, she jokingly added:

But now, I’m thinking that the that the kimura is quite good.

What's next for Song Ka Yeon?

There's no doubting that Song Ka Yeon is ready to step inro the cage and compete again. The only unknown is when and where her return to mixed martial arts will be.

When asked whether there was any information surrounding Ka Yeon's return to mixed martial arts, we were informed that "there'll be something sorted in the next few months."

With the 'when' still up in the air, we tried to find out the 'where', to which Ka Yeon and her team could not answer.

As for now, nothing changes for Song Ka Yeon.

My focus is to keep on training. I’ll keep doing no-gi competitions. Next month, I’m off to Australia for the Pan Pacific IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championship.

For her many thousands of fans around the world, Song Ka Yeon says:

I’m very thankful for my fans because they always support me. I look forward to being able to show what I can do soon.

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