An injury to Eddie Ng handed Brian Choi an unexpected opportunity to make his ONE FC debut this month. It is the chance 'The Polar Bear' has been waiting for, but the Korean will not be expecting an easy ride when he moves up in weight to take on hard-hitting Frenchman Arnaud Lepont.
Lepont has been campaigning as a welterweight and has an outstanding 8-1 record, having won his last five fights by way of stoppage. He has never been the distance and has heavy hands, solid submission skills and is renowned for aggression.
Choi is a featherweight who is coming off the first loss of his career at Road FC last year when he dropped a decision to Bae Young Kwon, who is one of the top 145-pounders in the region. He will be looking to bounce back on June 23rd when he steps in for his Evolve MMA teammate Ng.
He took time out to answer questions about his preparation for the fight against Lepont which is set for ONE FC: Destiny of Warriors at Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur.
Check it out:
Whose idea was it for you to step in and replace Eddie?
The decision was made by ONE FC and my coaches at Evolve MMA. I have been to both the ONE FC shows in Singapore and was amazed by how many people turned out and couldn't wait to have my first ONE FC fight. I am very grateful for the opportunity to fight on the biggest show in Asia and I hope that I can do Korea proud.
You haven't fought for a while, have you been training regularly?
My last fight was in December and in the last six months I have spent a lot of time training with former Greco Roman Wrestling Olympian Heath Sims who overlooks the training and shares his extensive MMA experience with the fight team. He is Dan Henderson's coach and is one of the most respected MMA trainers the world and although I have not had a fight date set I have still been training twice a day 5-6 times a week under the supervision of Heath and Chatri Sityodtong.
Are you worried about the size difference as you are moving up from 145 he is moving down from 170?
No I am not worried about the size difference because I have fought in different weight classes my entire professional career. Featherweight is the best division for me but I have fought against welterweights a few times, mainly because opponents have missed weight, so it is not an issue. I am solely focused on what I need to do for this fight.
Do you know much about Arnaud Lepont and have you watched any of his previous fights?
I don't like to watch tape of my opponent and I have not watched any videos of Arnaud. I leave the game plan and strategy to my coaches. They have prepared my game plan and that's what I am working on.
Are you planning in fighting at 155 in future or is this a one off?
I feel most comfortable fighting at 145 however, if the opportunity presents itself and my coaches and I feel it's a good move I would definitely consider fighting at 155 again. I am always up for exciting fights.
Do you think that three weeks gives you enough time to prepare?
As a professional fighter training regardless of whether you have a fight or not is very important. The Evolve Fight Team train twice a day, six days a week so my training and development as a fighter never stops. Under the instruction of my World Champion coaches and team mates I am ready for this fight.
Which trainers and sparring partners have you been working with in preparation for this fight?
Leandro Issa, Mitch Chilson and Zorobabel Moreira are all fighting on the same night so I have been sparring with them, Leandro and Mitch are both around the same size as me which helps. Rich Franklin is also at Evolve MMA at the moment and Ben Askren was here recently and getting to train with them was an amazing learning experience for me as an a fighter. I also have coaches like Orono Wor Petchpun and Attachai Fairtex who help me with my Muay Thai, I've been doing boxing with Yodsanan Sityodtong and Heath Sims helps a lot on the wrestling side. I couldn't imagine a better set of coaches, I don't think there is anywhere other than Evolve MMA where I would be able to work with such a selection of trainers, they are all absolute legends.
How did you end up in Singapore?
I had just finished my military service in Korea and me and a friend both wanted to be professional fighters and we did some research and discovered Evolve MMA and it seemed to be the best possible place for a fighter to train. We just turned up on the doorstep, they weren't expecting us, but I have been here ever since.
How excited are you to be making your One FC debut?
I am very excited to fight for my debut fight for One FC. One FC is huge in Asia and making big announcements and signings every week. It’s every fighter’s dream to fight in front of a huge crowd and I can't begin to describe how excited I am about this event. I love to fight and am happy to fight anywhere but getting to fight in front of thousands of fans in a big arena and then getting to see the fight on ESPN Star afterwards, that's even better.
You fought Bae Young Kwon and you helped Mitch Chilson prepare to fight Eric Kelly, do you have any predictions for that fight?
They are both very talented fighters, the fight could go either way. However, I am leaning towards Kwon by submission.
It's pretty cool. One FC attracts a lot of talent, I'm happy to be be able to compete amongst these guys.
For fans who have never seen you fight before what can they expect?
The fans can expect a fast paced exciting fight.