The South Korean Movement Has Arrived at ONE Championship – OK Rae Yoon and Kim Jae Woong Lead the Charge

Published 10/05/2021, 4:54 AM EDT


It has been far too long since ONE Championship has had a Korean world champion.

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One needs to look back to the promotion’s early days when Kotetsu Boku became the inaugural ONE Lightweight World Champion and Soo Chul Kim was the first-ever ONE Bantamweight World Champion.

Close to a decade later, that dream has turned into a reality as Ok Rae Yoon captured the ONE Lightweight World Title after he dislodged Christian “The Warrior” Lee from his pedestal via a unanimous decision win at ONE: REVOLUTION last Friday, 24 September.

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“I really believe that I deserve it because thinking about it, I beat Marat Gafurov, Eddie Alvarez, and now Christian Lee. I’m never saying that I did well and I’m good, but I’m saying that my opponents were great athletes, they’re legends, they’re the best in the world, and if I think about it, I don’t know who else can beat all three of them in a year,” Ok said.

Christian Lee may dwell on the controversy on the fight’s outcome, but for Ok Rae Yoon, a win is a win. And he’s just grateful for his support group, which tremendously helped him in getting the job done.

“This sport looks like it’s an individual sport where it’s a one-on-one fight, but actually, it’s not something that you can do alone,” Ok said, expressing his gratitude for his peers in Team Mad, especially his coach Yang Sung Hoon, as well as the sponsors who tirelessly supported him.

“I really had a rough time. It was very hard, it was difficult for me because this sport is never easy. But I finally feel like I’m rewarded for all my hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, everything. By coming to ONE Championship and becoming the world champion, I finally think that I’m rewarded, and I’m just going to keep continuing this.”

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It was the culmination of Ok’s supernova-like ascent in just a year with the promotion. But he’s not alone in this new wave of Korean fighters taking ONE Championship by storm.

“The Fighting God” Kim Jae Woong proved that he’s a force to be reckoned with in the featherweight division, stunning former featherweight champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen with a debilitating first-round knockout on the same card.

“Mighty Warrior” Kang Ji Won is undefeated after finishing two highly regarded wrestlers in his ONE Championship stint so far and is slowly building his case for a title shot against reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Arjan Bhullar.

And of course, dangerous veteran Seo Hee Ham signaled her arrival in ONE Championship, doing no less than to take out the atomweight division’s #1-ranked contender in Denice Zamboanga in her Circle debut.

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Kim, for one, insists that there’s a lot more talent waiting for their breaks, and he believes that ONE is just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to discovering the top fighters from Korea.

“I know that the talent pool in Korea is huge, and it’s just that Korean fighters were not given a chance yet,” said Kim.

“There are so many talents out there who can do even better than me, so I believe I’m just lucky, and I’m just trying to do my best here.”

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Truly, the Korean movement in ONE Championship is back in full force.

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Arman Khan

169 articles

Arman Khan is a UFC author for EssentiallySports. He began following combat sports when Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor competed in 'The Money Fight' in 2017. 'The Notorious' attracted Arman to the UFC and he became an ardent fan of professional fighting as he could draw parallels with the action from his combat sports experience and break down techniques such as striking and striking defense lucidly for the casual fans.

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