OO Fights, the DC area's leading MMA promotion, is holding their next show on February 15 ("Conflict 27") at EchoStage in northeast DC. As always, OO Fights has a full card lined up, including five title fights! The area's best schools are well-represented on the card, including BETA Academy, which has four fighters on the card, including the first title defense of phenom Esrom Montesino at 170 lbs.
One of the most exciting young fighters on the card is Kevin Chung, fighting out of the Big Brothers team (Leo Dalla). Kevin is a four-time veteran of OO Fights (check out his highlight video here). Kevin is fighting Pablo Garcia of Disciple MMA for the 135 lb title. This is his first title fight and first time dropping to 135 lbs as well. Kevin earned the title shot after a unanimous decision victory over Jeff Melvin in September. I got the chance to interview Kevin ahead of this fight and this is what he had to say:
Tell us about your background in terms of getting into martial arts; what arts you practice now and your ranks in each.
I don't have a prior martial arts background, although I wish I wrestled throughout grade school. I'm currently training in Muay Thai, boxing, and hold a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Leo Dalla.
What is your MMA fight record? What about BJJ titles?
I'm currently 4-0, looking to make it 5-0 for the bantamweight title at Conflict 27. In terms of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitions, I've competed many times and placed at several local and national tournaments.
This fight is for the 135 pound (bantamweight) title right? What can you tell us about your opponent?
The fight is indeed for the OO Fights Bantamweight title. My opponent is Pablo Garcia from Disciple MMA, and I believe his overall record record is 5-1. Although his stand-up and Jiu-Jitsu for MMA do not impress me much, I've seen him train and compete in sport Jiu-Jitsu and can say he is a good competitor with some dangerous attacks. He has good cardio and isn't afraid to get hit, and I'm sure he's been training hard for this fight. Fans who come to see this event can expect anything from a quick finish to a 3 round war. I believe improvement doesn't happen overnight, so I'm always working on learning and improving my weaknesses. I want to dominate him on the feet and on the ground.
What was your training like for this fight?
My training camp for this fight was roughly 7 weeks. In the morning I will typically do my cardio or meet teammates to drill and roll. In the evening will be bag/pad work along with sparring. I like to cross-train as long as my partners are reliable and have good an understanding of the sport, so I train with a good amount of people. The only problem is I drive anywhere of a given 50-100 miles a day, which requires a bit of gas money (haha) I train with Master Dalla at Premier Fight Center out in Woodbridge as well as meet teammates for sparring at UFC gym. For this fight, I've been learning elite-level Muay Thai under the tutelage of Vivek Nakarmi at Pentagon MMA. I've also been wrestling with my friend Ryan Sepulveda among st others, focusing on my take-downs and well as take-down defense.
You dominated the grappling aspect in your last fight but (by your own admission) you were not as successful in the stand-up. How has that affected your training for this fight?
0.01% everyday. I'm slowly learning and improving standing and on the ground.
This is your first time cutting to 135 right? How is that going?
I haven't focused on my cut until 4 weeks out and just focused on training, but it’s going great and everything is on schedule. In the future you can expect to see me fight in the flyweight (125) weight class, which means you will see a significant drop in stock for CMG (Chipotle Mexican Grill)
What are you next steps as far as MMA goes?
I'm taking things fight by fight and I do plan on returning to BJJ competitions one day, but here's the thing. To be successful whether it's MMA or sport Jiu-Jitsu, each requires an extensive amount of dedication and perseverance. For BJJ, you don't just show up to class for 2 hours and expect to fly out to California and win a major title. It's scientific. Endless hours of careful drilling from every position and situational sparring are needed to even be competitive with the best. And it's not just drilling positions you like, especially with the evolution of the 50/50 and Berimbolo. The same goes for MMA. Sure, I won a couple of hard-fought IBJJF titles in the past. But I haven't nearly been successful in sport BJJ as I would have liked, partly due to the fact I was trying to do a million things at once and not do the simple things it took to win. So as of right now, I'm focusing on this fight and putting my attention towards that.
You have an exciting style; always moving forward, pushing the pace and looking for the finish. Who are your MMA influences?
The goal is always to leave with your hand raised and head still on your shoulders. However, as sad as it sounds the average joe pays to see an exciting knockout or bone-crushing submission. That's why I try to push the pace and make sure I look for the finish. Fighters I love to watch and study are BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar, as well as Demian Maia. All 3 of those guys are technically sound and are exciting to watch.
Thanks for your time Kevin. Anything you want to add?
I want people to know I'm going to know to send this man's head to Echostage's upper level seating section on February 15th. Special thanks goes out to Red Belt Athletics, Stony Creek Homes, Budokon University, and Meega Korean BBQ. Special thanks to coaches Leo Dalla, Vivek Nakarmi, Mike Pope, and the rest of my training partners.
OO Fights is holding Conflict 27 on February 15 at EchoStage. Five title fights, including the always exciting Kevin Chung, and 15+ fights overall. It is going to be a great show. Tickets are available through the OO Fights website here. Come and out support your local DC-area MMA fighters.