Dong Hyun Kim and the 10 Best Asian Fighters in the UFC Right Now
The UFC returns to Asia this weekend, as The Ultimate Fighter: China finale takes place in Macau, China. The card will be headlined by South Korean welterweight Dong Hyun Kim and British stud John Hathaway.
The card is littered with Asian talent, both established and up-and-coming. Most of the talent from Asia comes from Japan and South Korea, as seen by the fighters were on the UFC roster.
Let's take a look at the Asian fighters in the UFC and establish the top 10.
Note: No Russian fighters will be included, as Russia is considered to be part of both Europe and Asia.
10. Yui Chul Nam
Country: South Korea
Yui Chul Nam has yet to step foot in the Octagon, but he is someone to keep an eye on going forward.
The South Korean fights this weekend at the TUF: China finale against Kazuki Tokudome in his UFC debut. He brings an aggressive, grinding style that sees him ground and pound opponents into oblivion.
His record includes wins over top UFC featherweight Hacran Dias, One FC vet Vuyisile Colossa (twice) and top Japanese prospect Takasuke Kume (twice).
He can prove his worth when he takes on two-time UFC vet Tokudome. Yui Chul Nam could be the next South Korean star to break out from the country.
9. Kyoji Horiguchi
Kyoji Horiguchi entered the UFC as a bantamweight, but he is now a flyweight who is gunning for a title in a division stacked with young talent. He is among the most talented.
His style is reminiscent of a prime Kid Yamamoto. He throws heat on the feet yet has the ability to put guys on their back and inflict damage.
He showcased that style in his UFC debut, crashing through Dustin Pague. He now moves to 125, where he will debut opposite Darrell Montague in Cincinnati in May.
He is only 23, so he could be a top Asian fighter for years to come.
8. Hatsu Hioki
Hatsu Hioki has not been able to find consistency in the Octagon. That is the only thing keeping him from a higher spot on this list.
He opened up his UFC tenure with a controversial win over George Roop and a clear-cut decision over Bart Palaszewski. Since then, he has dropped three in a row to Ricardo Lamas, Clay Guida and Darren Elkins.
Hioki is a stud grappler, but we haven't seen the trademark submission game that marked his early career. He has a chance to get back on track in China this weekend when he meets Ivan Menjivar, who is a good test for Hioki.
7. Hyun Gyu Lim
Country: South Korea
When it comes to monstrous men, few may be as massive in their weight class as Hyun Gyu Lim is. He outsizes his welterweight opponents in every fight.
Not only that, but Lim is skilled and powerful. Despite his recent slip-up to Tarec Saffiedine, Lim has been lethal in the UFC, battering Marcelo Guimaraes and Pascal Krauss along the way.
He is always dangerous and can finish any fight with his immense power. However, the young South Korean showed that he needs to be built up more slowly and not thrown to the wolves like he was against Saffiedine.
6. Takeya Mizugaki
Until recently, Takeya Mizugaki was struggling to find consistency in the Octagon. He couldn't string two wins together, but now he finds himself on a four-fight surge.
He has taken four straight decisions over the likes of Jeff Hougland, Bryan Caraway, Erik Perez and Nam Phan. He is slowly entering the title picture, where he can eventually earn a shot at gold.
His striking and toughness have been his trademarks thus far in his career. He should continue to use those to stay on his winning course.
5. Takanori Gomi
Takanori Gomi is another Asian fighter who has struggled to find consistency in the Octagon, but he has only lost to top talent. Nevertheless, the Pride vet is still one of the best Asian fighters with the company.
He owns wins over Mac Danzig, Eiji Mitsuoka and Tyson Griffin and could easily be on a three-fight win streak. However, his latest fight saw him fall to Diego Sanchez in what can only be described as a robbery.
His trademark knockout power and solid takedown offense make him dangerous throughout the fight. However, we await his return from nearly a year ago.
4. Chan Sung Jung
Country: South Korea
A former title challenger to Jose Aldo, Chan Sung Jung is one of the sport's more entertaining fighters to watch and one of Asia's best fighters.
"The Korean Zombie" is a young fighter (26) with many good years ahead of him. However, he is nursing an injury, so we have yet to see him since the Aldo fight.
The striker has added some great grappling chops to his game. He showed off a rare twister submission of Leonard Garcia and a D'arce choke of Dustin Poirier.
Fans eagerly await his return.
3. Tatsuya Kawajiri
It took Tatsuya Kawajiri awhile to make his debut in the Octagon, but it was well worth it. The Japanese ace dominated Sean Soriano and announced his arrival to the world's largest MMA promotion.
He is a power, strong grappler with good submissions and ground-and-pound. That was evident against Soriano, whom Kawajiri wore down and dominated him on the ground.
He now has Clay Guida on his plate when the UFC returns to Abu Dhabi in April. A win over Guida would launch him into contention.
2. Cung Le
Other than being a mentor on TUF: China, we have not seen much of Cung Le lately. In fact, the last time he fought was the only other time the UFC went to China, when he knocked out Rich Franklin in the main event in November 2012.
Fans are eager for Le to return, as he is a flashy striker with crazy power and entertaining fights. He puts in great performances time in and time out, which is why he is such a highly valued fighter.
Though he is Americanized, Le was born in Vietnam. So, he is eligible for this list.
1. Dong Hyun Kim
Country: South Korea
There's no doubt about it: Dong Hyun Kim is the best Asian fighter in the UFC right now.
Kim has lost only twice in his career. One was a blistering knockout to Carlos Condit, while the other was a freak injury on a takedown to Demian Maia.
Other than that, he has been perfect. He uses his judo and smothering ground game to grind out opponents. He showed a different dimension when he brutally knocked out Erick Silva in his latest outing.
A win over John Hathaway this weekend would be huge. Not only that, but it would put him into the title conversation.
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