Kim Jae Woong has knocked out two former ONE Championship title holders. He faces a third next month with the Korean taking on hard hitting former bantamweight champion John Lineker.
Lineker has earned a reputation for being one of the biggest hitters in the lower weight classes. He has consistently put away opponents with punches in both the UFC and ONE Championship.
But Woong has proven punching power himself and says that Lineker’s fists hold no fear for him at ONE Fight Night 13,
“My most dangerous weapon is my warrior’s fearless heart that is unafraid of John Lineker’s fist’s. I will withstand his powerful striking.”
Bantamweight Banger 😤 @johnlineker's road back to the 🔝 must go through hard-hitting South Korean Kim Jae Woong at ONE Fight Night 13 on Prime Video! Who you got?#ONEFightNight13 | Aug 4 at 8PM ET
🇺🇸🇨🇦 Watch Live on Prime
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🎟️ Tickets 👉… pic.twitter.com/SgdhrBxGsG
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) June 29, 2023
With three losses in his last four fights Woong’s form has clearly dipped. His match against Kai Tang in 2022 was a featherweight title eliminator but he was stopped by the American who would go on to win the belt.
After a submission loss to Shamil Gasanov he dropped down to bantamweight and stopped former champion Kevin Belingon in the opening round. But he came up short against Shoko Sato with Woong visibly frustrated by the tactics of the experienced Japanese fighter.
His record might have been blemished by the recent results but Woong says his confidence has not suffered,
“I have always fought confidently and will continue to do so in this match. I believe in myself.”
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) June 1, 2022
Lineker is the #1 ranked bantamweight so this is a difficult fight for a fighter who is far from the top five. But it is also an opportunity and Woong was delighted to be offered such a marquee matchup,
“I’m so excited about it. John Lineker is a fighter who I have always admired. I was thrilled with the opportunity to face such a strong fighter.”
It is the first time that Lineker has failed to win two fights in a row since 2009. Of course it is the first time he has had to fight Fabricio Andrade, and the Brazilian might just be the best opponent that the UFC veteran has ever faced.
But Woong thinks the timing is significant and sees this as a fight which could completely change his life,
“I see this upcoming fight as a massive opportunity for me. I believe it will be a match to showcase my growth and progress. I am preparing knowing it is a significant match, and that it will change my future.”
Kim Jae Woong 🇰🇷 TKOs former ONE World Champion Kevin Belingon in Round 1 of his bantamweight debut! 👊#ONEonPrimeVideo4
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🌍 Watch live on https://t.co/eBUfsOlZOd pic.twitter.com/4M7auhaaXi
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) November 19, 2022
He admits to feeling nerves before the matches with Nguyen and Belingon but after eight ONE Championship fights Woong thinks this is a thing of the past,
“I still vividly remember feeling tense and nervous during my matches with Nguyen and Belingon. Having gone through those emotions before, I think I can overcome them well this time around.”
Interestingly Woong says he is more focused on fixing his recent mistakes than coming up with a specific game plan for Lineker,
“Rather than preparing specifically for the upcoming match, I am focusing on training and identifying the areas where I have experienced my shortcomings since the last match.”
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But it is clear that Woong believes his opponent might still be suffering psychologically from those damaging defeats to Andrade. The physical scars will have long since healed but the Korean plans to ‘overwhelm’ Lineker,
“It will be a difficult match but I think it will also be fun. I want to overwhelm him physically and mentally.”
The sight of Lineker quitting on his stool against Andrade will have filled future opponents with confidence, even if it was the veteran’s cornerman who ultimately made that call. Woong will be looking to inflict more punishment on the Brazilian and knows that the #1 spot in the division could be at stake.