TORONTO — Doo Ho Choi looks like he’d need a chaperone to get into an R-rated movie, but he also might be one of the most dangerous strikers competing at UFC 206.
Through three UFC appearances, Choi (14-1) has developed something of a cult following, thanks to his boyish look and back-to-back-to-back first-round knockouts. He’ll seek UFC victory No. 4 this weekend against Cub Swanson.
The South Korean featherweight is 25, but could easily pass for a teenager. He’s aware his appearance leaves an impression and goes by the nickname “The Korean Superboy.”
“I do believe my looks play a role in my popularity,” said Choi, through an interpreter. “Especially amongst female fans in Korea, looks are very important. I don’t look like a fighter but I’m very violent.”
Choi, who began training MMA at age 17, broke into the UFC in November 2014 with an 18-second knockout. The main event of the UFC card Choi debuted on featured Swanson in a fight against Frankie Edgar.
It’s been a quick rise for Choi ever since, as he’ll take on Swanson during the pay-per-view portion of UFC 206 inside Canada Air Centre. Choi is focused on the fight but says he’s ready for a title shot now. He expects to get one in 2017.
“After I knock out the No. 4-ranked fighter in my division, I want someone in the top three,” Choi said. “I’m looking to get a title shot. Not only am I ready, I’m ready right now.”
Like his countryman and fellow UFC featherweight Chan Sung Jung, Choi will be required to serve a two-year stint in the South Korean military at some point. Military service is mandatory for all South Korean males.
“MMA is serious business but while wins and losses are important, what’s more important is entertaining fans. There aren’t too many Asian fighters who fight like I do, really go for the knockout.”
Doo Ho Choi
Jung (13-4) recently finished that obligation and is scheduled to return from more than a three-year layoff in February. Choi says he’s not currently planning out that portion of his life and is only focused on what’s in front of him.
“I have to go before the age of 28, so I’m not really thinking about it now,” Choi said. “I’m not thinking too pessimistic of it. I’m very accepting of the fact I have to go as a Korean man, but I’m not thinking about it right now.”
Swanson (23-7) is on a two-fight win streak and has been floating around the top of the division the past decade.
Choi says he’s been watching Swanson fight since well before he joined the UFC and couldn’t ask for a better fight to showcase his style and continue to gain notoriety.
“Cub has a style comparable to mine, he’s very physical and very violent,” Choi said. “This fight will be exciting.
“MMA is serious business but while wins and losses are important, what’s more important is entertaining fans. There aren’t too many Asian fighters who fight like I do, really go for the knockout.
“Knockouts are the cream of the crop in terms of entertainment, so that’s what I go for.”