A Sol Kwon (left) is not soft-spoken. | Photo: Greg Samborski
A Sol Kwon does not pull punches, figurative or literal.
Known for his always-aggressive, sometimes reckless in-ring style, the 26-year-old South Korean has shown a propensity to be just as brazen with his words, often inciting opponents through pre-fight interviews. Even Sherdog.com did not escape ridicule during our interaction. When asked why he had no recorded MMA fights between September 2008 and January 2010, Kwon laughed and said, “Sherdog needs [to do] more research! I had quite a lot of Japanese and Korean local fights in 2009 and 2010.”
Having fluctuated between weight classes for much of his career, Kwon now seeks to make himself a permanent fixture in the Asian lightweight ranks. Step one: a high-profile, short-notice showdown with Filipino prospect Eduard Folayang in the main event of Saturday’s inaugural One Fighting Championship event in Kallang, Singapore, which streams live on Sherdog.com.
Sherdog.com: For people who may be watching you for the first time on Sept. 3, can you talk a bit about your martial arts background and your fighting style?
Kwon: I did some tae kwon do and aikido for a short time, but MMA is my longest and most dedicated martial art. My style is to destroy everybody who gets in my way.
Sherdog.com: Your first recorded fights came in early Korean promotions like Neo Fight and Spirit MC. What was the attitude toward MMA in Korea back then?
Kwon: MMA had very little recognition and understanding in the beginning, but it’s a widely known sport now in Korea. My friends and family have been very supportive from the start.
Sherdog.com: How would you say it has changed in Korea during the past five years or so?
Kwon: So many MMA promotions came and went in Korea, and those who have survived and are still fighting are already winners in a way. And those who have gotten to fight in the UFC and Pride [Fighting Championships] are monsters. Now, I have this opportunity to showcase my skills in One Fighting Championship. I cannot wait.
Sherdog.com: You were on the second season of “Go! Super Korean,” which is roughly the Korean version of “The Ultimate Fighter.” What was your experience like on the show?
Kwon: Simply put, I learned how to survive in [the] jungle among these strange and wild animals. That was awesome.
Sherdog.com: What do you feel has been the high point of your career so far?
Kwon: My best learning experience has been my fight in Sengoku Raiden Championship [against Kiuma Kunioku] in Japan. I learned the importance of strategy there. My best [accomplishment] would be the Heat welterweight title.
Sherdog.com: In a way, you break the stereotype of the “soft-spoken Asian fighter,” as you are never afraid to talk a little trash with your opponents. Is this just something you enjoy, or do you think it is necessary to sell fights?
Kwon: I just talk the way all of my hometown buddies talk (laughs). It’s kinda the jokester’s way. If you’re from where I’m from, you know it’s normal to talk smack to express friendship. A lot people misunderstand me. Yeah, I just am proud of where I’m from, and [I am] not going to change.
Sherdog.com: Your opponent on Sept. 3, Folayang, is highly regarded as a prospect. Do you know much about him, and what was your thought when One FC offered you the fight?
Kwon: It first occurred to me that he would be a great stepping stone for me to move up, sort of like vitamin complex tablets or energy drinks. He is pretty well-known in the region, so he will get as much attention as his opponent, and that’s cool. However, I’m so much better overall, and he will know that he has just been a big fish in a small pond when he fights me on Sept. 3. I already see him returning back to the same small pond after he experiences the reality in the huge ocean of One FC. It’s too bad.
Sherdog.com: You have been fighting a lot lately and are currently on a six-fight winning streak. Would you attribute this to a change in attitude, training or both?
Kwon: My training seems to be in full bloom now. I have drilled basics so much, and that’s how you get better and that that’s how I have gotten better. The flow is with me.
Sherdog.com: Where are you training for this fight and who have been some of your main training partners?
Kwon: I train at the CMA Korea-affiliated Mokpo Pride Gym. My best training partners are my main partners, and I could not ask for better guys to train with. You will see what I mean on Sept. 3 when I devour Folayang. It will be nasty. Don’t blink. I mean it.