Not that long ago, Dong Hyun Kim was boring. Really boring.
For a guy so thoroughly trained in the art of putting fist to face, he sure could suck the fun out of the process. He was far keener to smother from the top position than he was to execute big throws or beautiful combinations.
What's worse? No one even cared.
He was among the most uninteresting undefeated prospects MMA had ever seen.
Then Carlos Condit came along, flying through the air like some sort of lunatic samurai and taking Kim's undefeated cred with a knee to the jaw.
Kim had nothing.
A few more uninspiring wins against middling competition, wrapped around a highly unfortunate loss via injury, and it looked like the Korean was very much ready to be labeled as a bust.
But in a sport so often centered around the idea of a man's lights being switched off, Kim's light then switched on: He reinvented himself as a wild man, throwing caution to the wind and letting the chips fall where they would.
I wanna be a champion..http://t.co/vMqsx6RXHz— Dong Hyun Kim (@fighterdhk) July 23, 2014
The results were staggering, as he almost killed Erick Silva and upped the ante by adding a spin when he did something similar to John Hathaway months later.
Now, with a fight against Tyron Woodley at UFC Fight Night 48 coming up Saturday, it's time to double down.
It's no secret that Woodley's prone to having his pace slow in a fight and occasionally tends toward lapses in willingness to attack. If a fighter stands and trades with him, Woodley can excel through fistic power or takedown expertise. If fighters commit to pushing him at a level where he's uncomfortable, he'll wilt.
It happened with Nate Marquardt and Rory MacDonald. Control the pace of the fight, and you'll control your chances of victory against Woodley.
That's why this new, maniacal version of Kim is so crucial to success in Macau.
Any timidity will likely result in significant facial rearrangement at the hands of Woodley; a fearless firefight makes Kim the one doing the rearranging.
So with that in mind, and trying to ignore the reality that fans around the world are far more apt to enjoy Kim the Berserker over Kim the Human Blanket, this is a time that strategy and will to entertain intertwine nicely.
The whole sport wants Kim to remain committed to pandemonium; it's awesome to watch. But based on Woodley's track record and where his struggles tend to lie, this time it would be wise to listen.