June 13, 2017

UFC Fight Night 111: Dong Hyun Kim Hopes To Go From Gatekeeper To Sleeper In the Welterweight Division

By Raphael Garcia

Want to know how easy it is to get lost in the UFC divisional shuffles? Think about Dong Hyun Kim. Nearly ten years with the promotion and Kim is never one of the first names that come to mind when it’s time to talk welterweight title shots. Kim’s in action yet again this Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 111, but one wonders whether there is a real opportunity for Kim, or his opponent, Colby Covington, to make a real impact in the division with a win.

Kim first walked into the Octagon back at UFC 84 on May 24, 2008. Since then he’s put together a 13-3-1 record; that’s exceptional in the deep waters of the welterweight division. Still, Kim has never been considered a threat to the title. In the three biggest fights of his career, he’s come up short, taking losses to current champion Tyron Woodley, former interim champion Carlos Condit, and Demian Maia. And as such, “Stun Gun” has found himself in the proverbial “land of the gatekeepers.” Covington is planning on using him to break through to the next level, while for Kim, this is a fight to maintain his status quo.

Kim’s evolution as a fighter is noteworthy. When he first joined the promotion he used his abilities as a Judo black belt to maintain position over his foes,; submitting those that doubted his ground skills. Then something occurred right around the time he fought Erick Silva at UFC Fight Night 29 back in 2013. Kim went from what many would consider a “cautious” position fighter to an aggressive attacker that threw caution to the wind. His highlight reel suddenly began to be filled with stoppages. And in those fights that he lost, Kim went out on his shield rather than suffering controversial defeats. Although Kim still hasn’t broken through to become a fan favorite, experts and hardcore fans recognize that he’s the type of fighter that participates in an exciting battle every time he steps into the cage.

Covington is a true threat, however. He’s quietly put together a 6-1 run in the Octagon, and at 29 years of age, he possesses the fighting abilities and looks that the UFC appreciates when scouting new talent for a division. Kim is his toughest opponent yet, but Covington’s wrestling base and growing striking skills make this a “must see” contest. For Covington, this is the type of win that would vault him into the top ten and position him somewhere on the shortlist of welterweight contenders. But unless Kim can defeat Covington in impressive fashion, a win by the South Korean fighter won’t carry the same weight.

Wins and losses never mean the same thing to every fighter. For some, a victory can create an opening for a title shot. For others, a win validates that you belong on the UFC roster, while a loss does not. Colby Covington and Dong Hyun Kim are due to face off in the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 111, but they do so with different benefits at stake on the side of a victory. Kim has to navigate those unbalanced stakes and do something special if he hopes to stop being shuffled, and end up at the top of the deck.

UFC Fight Night 111: Holm vs. Correia takes place June 17, 2017 at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore.

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