Soo Chul Kim and Leandro Issa are to fight for the ONE FC Bantamweight Belt, it was announced by the promotion yesterday. The two fighters first met at the inaugural ONE FC event last September with the Brazilian winning by decision at the end of a closely contested fight.
Kim, who is only 20 years old and is rated as one of the best bantamweight prospects in Asia, has worked his way into contention with back to back wins over Japanese veteran Shoku Sato at Road FC 8 and URCC champion Kevin Belingon at ONE FC: 'Pride of a Nation.'
Issa has won two fights out of two for ONE FC with the most recent win coming against another Japanese veteran, Masakazu Imanari, in Kuala Lumpur. The Brazilian has a professional record of 10-2 and has won his last seven fights, with four of those victories occurring in Singapore.Kim's record stands at 6-4 but having fought so frequently at such a young age a few losses along the way were inevitable and his camp are convinced that, with so much experience already, by the time he is 25 he will be one of the best fighters in the world.
The first time they met Issa, who is a BJJ black belt and won a gold medal at the 2004 Mundials, did lots of damage on the ground but was unable to submit Kim. The Korean finished the fight sufficiently strongly for the commentators to think he might have done enough to win but all three judges went in favour of the Brazilian.
Their fight at ONE FC: 'Rise of the Kings' will be five rounds which could play in Kim's favour because he has exceptional stamina. Against Belingon he was relentless in pursuit of takedowns and he won the fight with Sato with a knock out in the fourth round.
Issa is a member of the Evolve MMA team where he trains alongside the likes of Shinya Aoki and Rafael Dos Anjos. One factor which could play in his favour is that Heath Sims has joined the coaching team since he first faced Kim and his wrestling is reported to have reached a completely different level as a result.
Kim showed some good tactical awareness against Belingon when he correctly surmised that he could use his size and strength to dominate the Filipino on the ground. He controlled the fight from start to finish with a wrestling based game plan but will probably try to keep it standing against the BJJ black belt on October 6th.
Issa has expressed his disappointment that he failed to finish the last fight despite spending large periods of time in a dominant position on the ground and will want a submission win this time around. He is rapidly emerging as one of the best bantamweights based in Asia and winning the ONE FC belt would cement his status as one of the top 135 lbers in the world.
ONE FC: 'Rise of the Kings' is likely to feature two more title fights and will be headlined by a bout between Shinya Aoki and Arnaud Lepont. The online stream will be 10 USD and it will also be available on PPV in the US for the first time.
For more information visit: www.onefc.com