6 Best South Korean UFC Fighters of All Time Ranked (2023)

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Are you wondering who the best South Korean UFC fighters are?

In this article, we’ll list the 6 best South Korean UFC fighters and go through their backgrounds, credentials, skills in the octagon, and who they’ve beaten and lost to.

Best South Korean UFC Fighters

Starting with the most elite, here are the 6 best South Korean UFC fighters of all time, all of whom have had to contend with their UFC careers being disrupted by their mandatory military service of 18 to 21 months.

1. Chan Sung Jung – ‘The Korean Zombie’ (17-8-0)

Height: 5’7” | Reach: 72” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Featherweight

Born in Pohang, South Korea, Chan Sung Jung is a two-time UFC featherweight title challenger and professional MMA fighter since 2007.

In order, he has competed in Pancrase, Korea FC, DEEP, Sengoku, WEC, and finally the UFC after it bought the WEC and merged promotions.

The Korean Zombie’s martial art journey started in hapkido at the age of 14, after he was continuously bullied in school for being small and skinny.

Between then and his graduation, he also started kickboxing, judo, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, as well as taekwondo once he joined the South Korean Navy at 18.

2 years later in 2007, Chan Sung Jung started MMA and turned professional almost immediately because of his extensive martial arts background.

Since then, he has become a 3rd dan black belt in hapkido, a 2nd dan black belt in taekwondo, a black belt in judo, and a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

He’s now been in the UFC for over 12 years since his debut in 2011, and has shown the following skills:

  • His nickname comes from his ability to continue moving forward and fighting aggressively after taking a lot of damage
  • Uses his range extremely well and relies on head movement
  • Keeps his hands low and feet planted as a way to generate as much power as possible and keep his strikes coming from different angles
  • Powerful boxing – 6 knockouts in 17 MMA wins – secured the tied third-fastest UFC knockout of only 7 seconds
  • Elite finishing ability once he has an opponent hurt – 14 out of 17 wins by finish (6 knockouts and 8 submissions)
  • Unpredictable techniques that take his opponents off guard – spinning back fists, flying knees,
  • Relentless pace and forward pressure – makes him one of the most entertaining fighters
  • Never been submitted because if taken down he has a great ability to scramble or threaten with jiu-jitsu

During this time, he secured great wins over Dan Ige, Frankie Edgar, Dennis Bermudez, Mark Hominick, Renato Maicano, and Dustin Poirier, while losing to Alexander Volkanovski, Brian Ortega, Jose Aldo, and Yair Rodriguez.

Supported by his 8 post-fight UFC bonuses and his 2012 Fight of the Year vs Dustin Poirier, the Korean Zombie is an iconic South Korean UFC fighter who always puts on a show for the fans, win or lose.

It will take a South Korean UFC champion to knock him off the top spot as the best South Korean UFC fighter of all time.

2. Dong Hyun Kim – ‘Stun Gun’ (22-4-1-1NC)

Height: 6’2” | Reach: 76” | Stance: Southpaw | Weight Class: Welterweight

Hailing from Suwon, South Korea, Dong Hyun Kim is a retired MMA fighter who competed professionally between 2004 to 2017.

His martial arts journey started with judo at the age of 14, followed by hapkido and taekwondo in his late teens.

He also competed in Sambo and went on to obtain a 4th dan black belt in judo, a 3rd dan black belt in taekwondo, a black belt in hapkido, and a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

He signed with Spirit MC in 2004 and challenged for the welterweight title in DEEP before joining the UFC in 2008. He trained at Busan Team MAD since 2007 and was a sparring partner to Yushin Okami before this.

During the next 9 years, Dong Hyun Kim fought to a 13-4 UFC record and showed the following skills:

  • Rock-solid chin and only lost by TKO three times in 27 MMA fights
  • Exceptional takedown defense – 71% over 18 UFC fights
  • Excellent top control which earned him the nickname Cicada – flies that eat the sap of trees – he’s 7th in the UFC welterweight rankings for total ground control time of 1 hour 38 minutes
  • Creative and diverse striking – personified by his spinning elbow against John Hathaway for Knockout of the Year (2014)
  • Brilliant judo throws and trips from the clinch, as well as effective double and single-leg takedowns

During his UFC career, Dong Hun Kim beat Erick Silva, Nate Diaz, Matt Brown, T.J. Grant, Paulo Thiago, and John Hathaway, while he lost to Carlos Condit, Tyron Woodley, Demian Maia, and Colby Covington – four beasts.

Overall, Dong Hyun Kim was a good fighter and was the second South Korean fighter to join the UFC. He’s responsible for hugely improving the popularity of MMA in South Korea and even inspiring the younger fighters on this list.

3. Da Un Jung – ‘Sseda’ (15-4-1)

Height: 6’4” | Reach: 78” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Light heavyweight

A professional MMA fighter since 2015, Da Un Jung is the former HEAT light heavyweight champion who currently has a 4-2-1 UFC record since joining the promotion in 2019.

Da Un Jung is a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has spent his career training out of Korean Top Team in Seoul, South Korea.

Da Un Jung strung together a 10-win streak to earn himself a UFC contract and went on to win 4, draw 1, and lose 2 in his first 7 UFC fights.

During that run, Da Un Jung showed the following skills:

  • Brute strength leading to impressive takedown defense – 80% in 7 UFC fights
  • Granite chin and durability – only 1 knockout loss in 20 MMA fights which was an early stoppage
  • Impressive takedowns, trips, and control on the ground
  • Knockout power with his boxing, especially with his right hand – 11 knockouts in 15 MMA wins
  • Devastating and slick elbows from the clinch position – he won 3 out of 4 fights before joining the UFC via elbows (2018-19)
  • Fights with high composure and calmness even after getting rocked – he keeps his defense tight and relieves pressure by throwing jabs

In the UFC, Da Un Jung has beaten William Knight, Mike Rodriguez, and Kennedy Nzechukwu, while he drew with Sam Alvey and lost to Devin Clark and Dustin Jacoby. However, unfortunately, his loss to Jacoby was an early stoppage.

After an impressive start, his UFC losses in 2022/23 came as a result of his questionable decision-making. So, if he improves his fight IQ and works on his speed, Da Un Jung can become a top 10 light heavyweight before long.

Overall, Da Un Jung is one of the best South Korean UFC fighters of all time, and at just 29 years old, he has room to further develop and become a more complete MMA fighter.

4. Jun Yong Park – ‘The Iron Turtle’ (17-5)

Height: 5’10” | Reach: 73” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Middleweight

Fighting out of Seoul, South Korea, Jun Yong Park started his professional MMA career in 2013. He competed to a 10-3 record across various Asian promotions, satisfying the UFC hierarchy to give him a chance in 2019.

Jun Yong Park has trained with Korean Top Team in Seoul, South Korea, since making his professional debut.

Since joining the UFC, Jun Yong Park has shown the following skills:

  • Great wrist/hand control when on top to keep an opponent down
  • Very comfortable trading in the pocket – good dirty boxing which he uses to headhunt
  • Stays in the opponent’s face with high boxing output – using his beautiful crisp jab and at times doubling up on it
  • Controls the pace and rhythm of the fight – gets opponents dancing to his rhythm
  • Unbelievable chin – he’s taken some explosive bombs and stayed on his feet – even in the loss to Rodriguez he was still on his feet but Peterson jumped in
  • High energy efficiency with his movements and footwork – not loading up too much on shots and sticking to the jab
  • Builds steady pressure until he’s going at opponents in waves
  • Strong upper body grappling against the cage and with body lock takedowns – which also translates into solid takedown defense (70%)
  • Well-roundedness helps him win any direction the fight goes – he has 5 knockouts, 6 submissions, and 6 decisions in 17 MMA wins

In his UFC career, Park has beaten Eryk Anders, Joseph Holmes, Tafon Nchukwi, Marc-Andre Barriault, and Albert Duraev – plenty of high-level fighters.

With a UFC record of 7-2 and looking more impressive with every return to the octagon, Jun Yong Park is the fighter on the list with the highest chance of success and progression.

5. Kyung Ho Kang – ‘Mr Perfect’ (19-10-1NC)

Height: 5’9” | Reach: 73” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Bantamweight | Fighting Style: Freestyle

From Busan, South Korea, Kyung Ho Kang was the first-ever Road FC bantamweight champion when he won the tournament in 2012. 

His martial arts journey began in 2006, initially focusing on jiu-jitsu and becoming the Korean BJJ Association champion before turning to professional MMA a year later (2007).

Kang’s career was kickstarted by winning “Go! Super Korean,” a show similar to The Ultimate Fighter

By winning, he earned a professional contract with Spirit MC and went on to compete in DEEP, Art of War, and Road FC before joining the UFC in 2013.

Kyung Ho Kang is a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and trains out of Team MAD in Busan, South Korea.

So far in the UFC, Kyung Ho Kang has shown the following skills while compiling a UFC record of 8-3-1NC:

  • Highly technical kickboxing
  • Pressures while keeping the distance with calf kicks and a sharp stinging jab
  • Fights behind the jab to maintain his striking defense – he pops the jab and brings his head back out of range
  • Great footwork and body movement to throw strikes from different angles as well as roll punches and evade
  • Good striking defense with head movement, high guard, and durability – only knocked out once early in his career via a soccer kick (illegal in UFC)
  • Submission prowess aided by his long limbs – 12 submissions in 19 MMA wins – 4 triangle chokes and 6 rear-naked chokes
  • Great timing on punches when fighters are getting back to their feet
  • Strong body lock trip takedowns
  • Effective scrambling ability out of disadvantageous ground positions

So far in the UFC, Kang boasts wins over Liu Pingyuan, Brandon Davis, Teruto Ishihara, Guido Cannetti, Batgerel Danaa, Michinori Tanaka, and Cristian Quinonez.

And while Kyung Ho Kang does most of his best work with submissions, he’s a very well-rounded mixed martial artist proficient on the feet and with grappling.

With 10 years in the UFC, Kyung Ho Kang is the 2nd longest-tenured South Korean with plenty of time to become a ranked UFC bantamweight soon.

He’s comfortable anywhere the fight goes and is therefore one of the best South Korean UFC fighters of all time.

6. Doo Ho Choi – ‘The Korean Superboy’ (14-4-1)

Height: 5’10” | Reach: 70” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Featherweight

After graduating from Gumi University with a degree in Security, Doo Ho Choi turned to professional MMA in 2009 at the age of 18 and spent most of his pre-UFC career fighting in the Japanese promotion, DEEP.

Fighting out of Team MAD Busan like many of the other South Korean UFC fighters on this list, Choi compiled an 11-1 record before signing with the UFC in 2014.

Upon entry, he scored 3 first-round knockouts and 2 performance bonuses which took his MMA win streak to 12.

Fast forward to 2023, Choi has a 3-3-1 UFC record and has shown the following skills:

  • Elite-level composure – with Michael Bisping saying he looks like he’s waiting for a bus when fighting
  • Sharp calf kicks (see his fight vs Kyle Nelson)
  • Crisp technique and beautiful boxing with knockout power – especially his right hook – 11 knockouts in 14 MMA wins
  • Lightning-fast punches and sniper-like accuracy which he sets up with effective feints
  • Excellent distance management by probing and slipping shots with head movement and footwork and following up with great-timed counters
  • Good durability and an ability to recover after being hurt

So far, he’s beaten Juan Manuel Puig, Sam Sicilia, and Thiago Tavares. 

He also beat Kyle Nelson 3-0 but was robbed by the horrifying refereeing decision of Chris Tognoni, who took a point for an accidental clash of heads with minimal contact. Dana White agreed and paid Choi his win money.

On the other hand, he lost to Charles Jourdain, Jeremy Stephens, and Cub Swanson in the 2016 UFC Fight of the Year. 

In fact, all three losses resulted in Fight of the Night bonuses because of the back-and-forth nature and entertaining fighting style of Doo Ho Choi. 

He also has the 5th fastest finish in UFC featherweight history at 18 seconds and has the opportunity to excel in the UFC over the next 5 years if he continues to improve.

The Bottom Line

This has been the 6 best South Korean UFC fighters of all time. While there have been others, these 6 are clear standouts in terms of skill, potential, longevity, and achievements.

As the fighters on this list continue fighting and other South Korean UFC fighters burst onto the scene, they’ll be added and the list will be updated.

If you feel a great South Korean UFC fighter was missed from the list, please comment below so they can be added.

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