Mu-Gyeom Choi Tops Bae Young Kwon at Road FC 14, Claims Inaugural 145-Pound Title

By James Goyder Feb 9, 2014
Mu-Gyeom Choi came into his fight with Bae Yong Kwon in the final of the Road FC featherweight grand prix as an underdog, but the 24-year-old defied the odds to win the tournament and the belt by split decision after a decisive fourth round at Road FC 14.

The featherweight final was the headliner for Sunday’s event, which took place at the Seoul Olympic Hall in Seoul, South Korea. Kwon booked his spot in the final by beating two experienced Japanese fighters, whereas Choi only had to win one fight, as his semifinal opponent couldn’t make weight.

The opening round was a tentative affair, with a perfectly executed judo trip from Kwon being the most eye-catching moment. In the second stanza Choi seemed to grow in confidence and started to score with crisp jab-cross combinations. Meanwhile, Kwon secured another takedown but almost got caught in an armbar.

By the start of the third, Choi seemed to realize he had an advantage in the striking department, and his opponent wasted no time dropping for a takedown, but once again Kwon was occupied with defending himself against multiple armbar attempts.

The referee stood the fighters up and Choi landed a hard right hand before catching an attempted body kick from Kwon and taking him down. A scramble ensued and Choi finished the round in mount but was unable to do any real damage before the buzzer sounded.

It made for an anxious wait, but ultimately two of the judges felt the fight was too close to call. The third awarded the bout to Kwon, making the contest a majority draw on the scorecards after three rounds. As a result, an extra round was required to decide the outcome of the grand prix and the destination of the inaugural Road FC 145-pound title.

Kwon scored an immediate double leg takedown at the start of the fourth and Choi attempted another armbar, but the referee stood them up promptly. Th exact same chain of events was repeated again, leaving both featherweights on their feet but visibly exhausted with barely a minute left to make a final impression.

It was Choi who seized the initiative, transitioning from a flying knee attempt to take Kwon’s back, work for a rear-naked choke and finish the round in dominant position. It was enough to secure him a surprise split-decision victory and the inaugural Road FC 145-pound title. The win moved his record to 5-3, while Kwon drops to 9-4.

Earlier in the evening, former One FC bantamweight champion Soo Chul Kim (8-5) got back to his winning ways with a brutal beatdown of Motonobu Tezuka (20-8-4). The finish came at the 2:00 mark of the opening round when the Korean hurt the UFC veteran with a hard left hook to the body and then finished him with a flurry of follow-up punches.

Two-time Road FC 155-pound title challenger Takasuke Kume (16-3-4) scored a significant victory, topping Eduardo Simoes (7-3-1) by unanimous decision. The Brazilian spent the majority of the fight on his back and was methodically worn down with ground-and-pound.

Elsewhere, Nam Jin Jo (8-6) scored the biggest win of his career by defeating Japanese flyweight Mikihito Yamagami by unanimous decision, while Nae-Chul Kim (3-3) also scored a memorable victory, knocking out Ryuta Noji (18-8) with a right hook at 4:27 of round two.

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