Dong Hyun Kim: 5 Fights for 'Stun Gun' to Take Next
Dong Hyun Kim has quietly crept up the UFC's welterweight ranks, leaving a trail of unconscious victims along the way.
OK, so "trail" might be a bit of an exaggeration, but "Stun Gun" is riding a four-fight winning streak, with the last two coming in violent fashion.
First, the South Korean blasted highly touted Brazilian prospect Erick Silva with a wild haymaker of a left and promptly finished the deed with a Donkey Kong-inspired hammerfist from Hades. This knockout was ferocious, but it was nothing compared to what he would do next.
Against John Hathaway at UFC Fight Night 37: Macau (also known as The Ultimate Fighter: China finale; also known as UFC Paid Fight Pass Experience I: The Card You Didn't Want to Wake up uo Watch), Kim unleashed a spinning elbow that landed on the button, flattening the Englishmen and sending him lifelessly to the canvas.
In a sport that is characterized by brutal finishes, this one still induced a cringe with its power and precision, and Kim enjoyed a nice spike in popularity and name recognition for his efforts.
Sound that elbow made at impact was sickeningly loud. Just brutal. Was legit worried for Hathaway. Was great to see him back up so quickly.— John Morgan (@MMAjunkieJohn) March 1, 2014
Unfortunately for Kim, the UFC's welterweight division is stacked, and many contenders are tied up in engagements within the next few months, leaving him with few immediate options.
Have no fear, though. Fun fights await the Asian grappler-turned-knockout-artist.
Click on to see the first of them.
According to the UFC's official rankings, Kim and Pyle are No. 11 and No. 13, respectively, in the division, so this fight makes sense on paper.
Digging deeper than numerical qualifiers, however, it becomes even juicier.
Pyle epitomizes the term "seasoned veteran." He's comfortable anywhere a fight goes, and he never seems overwhelmed or uncomfortable inside the cage.
Even against Matt Brown at UFC Fight Night 26—where he lost by first-round knockout—Pyle did not look tentative or lost. He simply got caught. It happens in a crazy sport like MMA.
Pyle is 5-2 in his last seven fights, with the two losses coming to Brown and Rory MacDonald.
He's a high-level gatekeeper, and those who defeat him usually go on to sniff title contention in the division. If Kim wants to stake his claim for a championship belt, he should prove his legitimacy against Pyle first.
Oh, hey, Matt. We were just talking about you.
UFC welterweight Matt Brown enjoyed one fantastic stretch from 2012 to 2013.
Over that period, he went 6-0 with five knockouts and only one decision. He was lined up to fight Carlos Condit at UFC on Fox 9 in what appeared to be a No. 1 contender's bout.
And then he got injured.
Nothing halts a fighter's momentum quite like a serious injury, and Brown's back injury set him out for an extended period of time, effectively neutralizing his red-hot status in the division.
Upon coming back, Brown will look to make it seven straight victories, and a bout against Kim is perfect for both sides.
If Brown wins, he avenges a loss to Kim from 2008 at UFC 88 and proves that his injury is healed and his streak is alive.
If Kim wins, he proves that he can hang with the Top 10 of the division and lines himself up for a huge second half of 2014.
As a bonus, both of these guys are savage finishers, so you can expect a rock 'em, sock 'em slugfest to go down.
That's always fun.
Thiago Alves (If He Beats Seth Baczynski)
Remember this guy?
It's OK if you don't. He hasn't fought in two years, and his last effort ended in defeat at UFC on FX 2.
Despite his recent inactivity, Thiago Alves is a bad dude.
He's a massive, hulking welterweight who likely carries around 200 pounds of muscle into the cage on fight night, and his ferocious muay thai attack has left star welterweights like Matt Hughes and Josh Koscheck dazed and confused.
He's a polished striker with knockout power and a great camp at American Top Team, and he'll be a dangerous addition to the UFC's 170-pound class upon his return.
To that end, he is slated to meet Seth Baczynski at UFC on Fox 11, but that fight feels like a classic tune-up match.
If Alves destroys Baczynski as expected, he will put himself in the thick of the division's Top 15 and make an excellent opponent for Kim's next outing.
Alves fought for the title against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 100, so Kim can show the world that he's ready for prime time with a big win over "The Pitbull."
The UFC is reluctant to match a fighter coming off a win with a fighter coming off a loss, but this matchup makes all kinds of sense to me.
If we step back from the ferocity of Kim's recent wins, his striking is unpolished. His shocking knockouts served to erase this as the lasting takeaway from his last two fights.
If he missed on his finishing blow against Hathaway and never scored a knockout, what would we remember? Kim looking plodding and clumsy, tossing crazy haymakers at his opponent for the majority of the bout before finally connecting and finishing the deed.
Yes, it was impressive, but check out the official fight stats. He was in no way dominating that fight (and Hathaway is unranked, if you're curious).
Because of that, Demian Maia is an ideal opponent for Kim.
Maia is coming off a loss against Rory MacDonald at UFC 170, but he stole Round 1. While he gassed hard, he still managed to make it to the final bell against a dangerous and highly skilled contender.
On top of this, he previously defeated Kim at UFC 148 in just 50 seconds, but Kim suffered a rib injury in that bout and could not continue after an early takedown from the Brazilian.
Maia is No. 6 in the division, and his grappling is among the best in the world—let alone the UFC—so he presents a considerable challenge for Kim moving forward.
While the Korean's knockouts were impressive, he's not worthy of title contention just yet in my eyes. Because of that, Maia is a realistic opponent for "Stun Gun" moving forward.
A change is coming in the UFC's welterweight division.
First, we jump to UFC 171 on March 15.
That main event features a title fight between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler, while the co-main event showcases a perennial contender in Carlos Condit against Tyron Woodley.
Beyond that, the event features Jake Shields vs. Hector Lombard (No. 7 vs. No. 12, respectively) and Kelvin Gastelum vs. Rick Story (fringe top 15 vs. No. 14, respectively).
Then, at UFC 172 on April 26, Jake Ellenberger (No. 5) takes on Tarec Saffiedine (No. 9).
The results of these fights will dictate which man (if any) makes the most sense for Kim in the future.
At the bottom end of the rankings, Gastelum could propel himself up the ladder with a dominating first-round win, and if he looks super impressive (as he has in the past), people won't complain about a test against Kim.
On the other side, if UFC 171's welterweight title is not competitive and one man walks away with a clear victory, the loser of that fight makes sense for Kim as well.
Because of this, it is impossible to pick just one guy at this time, but by May, we will have a nice look at a solid opponent for Kim as he continues his ascent up the 170-pound ranks.