Doo Ho Choi gave  a far reaching video interview to SCMP MMA this week. The Korean featherweight discussed his imminent comeback, injury issues, the end of his mandatory military service and going toe to toe with Danny Chavez at UFC Vegas 33.

Choi’s comeback fight is booked for July 31st (local time) in Las Vegas and the 30 year old is excited about the prospect of facing an opponent with a similar style,

“My opponent is an explosive striker but I’m out there to prove that I’m a better striker. I don’t know if this is the perfect matchup but it will be an explosive and entertaining fight. We will be fighting toe to toe.”

Gyo Dok Lee

Injury issues

Having burst onto the scene with three stoppage wins in his first three UFC fights the Korean is coming off three straight losses. He was last seen in action at UFC Busan getting finished by Charles Jourdain late in the second round.

But Choi was not in peak physical condition heading into that fight,

“I tore my rear ACL during training camp. I would have cancelled the fight normally but my military situation wasn’t clear so the government was only allowing me to compete in Korea, not other countries. If I didn’t take that fight I didn’t know how many years (until my next fight).”

And that wasn’t the end of his injury issues,

“I did fracture my arm during the fight and I believe that was the cause of my defeat. After the fight it was mixed emotions, I knew that I lost because of the injury and it really made me depressed.”

Gyo Dok Lee

Disappointing defeat

That loss was such a setback for Choi that he even contemplated retirement,

“I was thinking if I should quit, if I should just retire. I wanted to have some time to think about it and to recover. I believe if I didn’t have that injury (the broken arm) I would have won that fight.”

He also went into some detail while discussing his military service and why it is no longer an issue,

“I am exempted from mandatory military service. It is complicated but if you are injured the government gives you the option to work in an office but a lot of people are on the waiting list because there are a lot of people who are hurt or injured or sick. If you are on the waiting list for more than four years you are automatically exempted.”

Gyo Dok Lee

Greatest strength

Having already spent four years on the waiting list his national service obligations are officially over. Choi can focus on his MMA ambitions without having to worry about where the fight cards are taking place.

His next assignment is against an opponent known for his striking game. That has always been Choi’s greatest strength and he hopes Chavez will give him the opportunity to showcase his standup skills,

“I envision myself constantly pressuring him and once he comes in I’m going to hit him with that counter. If I can’t knock him out I will just keep doing that,” he said.

Choi’s last win was in 2016 meaning an entire generation of fight could be totally unaware of the devastating striking skills which made the Korean one of the most exciting young prospects on the roster. But while he hasn’t been fighting for the UFC much recently the 30 year old knows who the top featherweights are and feels he is more than a match for any of them,

“I’ve been training really hard and I believe that I’m still up there. I don’t think the ranked fighters are better than me skill wise, I think I’m at that level.”

Real man

He was also asked about being ‘baby faced’ and the ‘Korean Super Boy’ nickname.

“When western people see us Asians they might think we look like a baby or look young so that’s fine with me. But I’m a real man and that’s how I fight. I can grapple, I can do jiu jitsu, I can wrestle, I  can do anything but a real man’s fight is a striking battle, a toe to toe fight.”

He is hoping for one of those at UFC Vegas 33 next month but Choi is adamant he won’t sacrifice his principles. He wants to beat Chavez doing what he has always done,

“Winning is important but the most important thing is to give a good show for the fans. That’s why I stick to striking, because striking is what people want to see.”