January, 2018

By In Hawaii, Mixed Martial Arts

Make UFC Hawaii Happen

“A lot of my concentration has been recently dedicated to athletic delegations, a coupling of words I don’t typically think about or write about. Perhaps the more newsworthy delegation is between North and South Korean officials meeting and agreeing to Olympic participation and cooperation. Since I live in Korea, it’s something that obviously occupies my mind. Yet it’s another set of delegations that, while more esoteric and less reported, has me feverishly hitting refresh and eyeing ticket sales: the delegations from the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Officials from both camps met recently to discuss the possibility of making UFC Hawaii happen at some point this year. As of now, there’s not much to report. The delegations met and discussed terms, and by all accounts, the meeting went well. Talks will resume as Max Holloway’s title defense against Frankie Edgar at UFC 222 draws nearer.

I won’t beat around the bush here: UFC Hawaii needs to happen. Frankly, it’s ridiculous that it hasn’t happened already…”


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By In Hawaii, Korea

Lessons from the Hawaii Missile Threat

“Since I moved to Seoul four years ago, I’ve grown used to the hysterical concern that my family and friends back in Hawaiʻi have expressed about my new neighbor to the North. The hysteria has only intensified post-Trump, with every fiery sound byte and furious tweet manifesting into another frantic phone call asking if I’m sure I don’t want to move home yet.

It was a strange sort of role reversal when I woke up on an otherwise regular Sunday morning to discover that, while I was asleep, an intercontinental ballistic missile had been launched, was inbound to Hawaiʻi, and it wasn’t a drill. No texts or voice messages were on my phone, and the worst-case scenario billowed in my mind like a mushroom cloud. A quick Internet search informed me, however, that the warning was a mistake. Gratefulness and relief washed over me. Harrowing stories of parents calling their kids to say goodbye slowly turned into memes poking fun at the whole situation. Everything was fine. Everyone was fine.

A latent restlessness lingered around my apartment, though; one that soon transformed into anger…”


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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Heavyweight Durability

“The moments after a tough fight are often a fighter’s most honest. The physical and emotional ups and downs of prolonged combat wash away both the energy and the desire to be anything other than yourself. It’s why some of the most memorable and human moments are the post-fight interviews inside the Octagon, when whatever filter a fighter usually speaks through has been muted by their exhaustion. You’ll be forgiven, however, if you don’t really remember what Stipe Miocic said moments after breaking the record for most consecutive UFC heavyweight title defenses.

That’s not a cheapshot at the champ, but rather a testament to the lingering effects of a hard-fought war with Francis Ngannou. Miocic took to his Twitter account later and sounded much more coherent, though his face was still outfitted in “The Predator’s” handiwork. Ngannou may not have worn the damage he received as grotesquely, but for what he lacked in visible bruising, he more than made up for in complete and utter exhaustion…”


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By In essay, Korea, Mixed Martial Arts

The Main Event


Front and center was a cage where men would soon punch each other for money. Seats inside Seoul’s cavernous Olympic Hall wrapped around it on two levels: cageside VIP tables for the type of people who wear suits to a cage fight, and open seating above it for everyone else. Behind the cage was a ramp that led up to a theater stage set up with gear for a rock band. Above, a jumbo screen showed silent highlight videos of older matches on a loop.

A pre-fight promotional video started. Clips of knockouts played as the lights dimmed. Band members crept to their positions through the shadows while the video showed mean-mugging men holding up their fists. The video culminated with resounding, ear-splitting English: “Top FC! Fighting! Champion!”

The screen went blank. A row of mortar-like pyrotechnics shot flames upward from the edge of the stage, and the band started screaming over the sounds of their instruments. They sounded like the kinds of bands most kids listen to in high school but are now embarrassed to think about–except all in Korean.

It was exactly the type of campy, weird high-production values that I wanted, but as the music pierced the on-stage flames and echoed through the auditorium, I didn’t quite feel there. I didn’t quite feel anywhere…”


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By In Mixed Martial Arts

What It Takes To Build A Star

“It’s safe to say that the Doo Ho Choi hype train has been derailed, at least for now. After a promising 3-0 start in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, “The Korean Superboy” has dropped two consecutive fights, and with his compulsory military service hanging on the horizon, the future is looking more uncertain than ever.

Luckily, even with the impending two-year absence, the 26 year-old still has a lot of future ahead of him. If there’s any silver lining to his losses to Cub Swanson and Jeremy Stephens, it’s that both of them are much more experienced. That experience matters. Choi was barely a teenager when Swanson made his 2004 professional debut, and Stephens debuted only six months after that. Stephens was 17-5 with seven UFC fights under his belt by the time Choi got paid to fight. That’s a huge head start. There is no substitute for the confidence and grit earned through time in the cage. Prior to his UFC Fight Night 124 appearance on Sunday in St. Louis, Choi hadn’t even been in the Octagon for more than 20 minutes…”

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