Kim Ji Yeon will enter the octagon for the first time in almost 11 months at UFC Vegas 8 this weekend. She has been re-booked to face Alexa Grasso.

The two women were originally targeted to fight at UFC Austin on June 27th. Yeon was surprised when her opponent reached out to her before the show,

“To be honest, when the fight was announced, she sent me a message saying, let’s fight hard and get that ‘Fight Of The Night’ performance bonus. Let’s get that $50K bonus money.”

Mutual communication

This was a completely new experience for Yeon who wondered if Grasso was playing some sort of mind games,

“That was the first time in my fight career that an opponent reached out ahead of the fight and messaged me. I was somewhat surprised since I couldn’t tell if she was trying to play mind games or really meant what she was saying.”

Due to Covid-19 restrictions that show was officially canceled in late May. With the world in a state of uncertainty, the 30-year-old South Korean decided to return the favor,

“When the UFC canceled the June show, I reached out and asked her about the situation in her country. She responded with a heartwarming message stating that she hoped that the UFC will reschedule our fight. Having this interaction showing respect was a great feeling.”

No animosity

After these friendly interactions their fight this weekend will definitely not be a grudge match,

“So this fight is not about animosity or anything negative. It is all about who is the better fighter, skill versus skill. With the style she brings to the octagon, I am really hoping to perform at a high level against her.”

The #14-ranked UFC flyweight has spent countless hours sharpening her craft by working with a new set of coaches around her hometown of Seoul. She worked extensively with coach Kim Hi Jae of Movement Korea, an Ido Portal disciple.

She is excited to show off her new weapons against Grasso,

“I know my physical attributes and size will play a major factor in this fight. Therefore, I believe I can take this fight where I want and win.”

Patient approach

Yeon also promises to be patient while going in search of the finish,

“My mindset is to always hit my opponent as hard as possible but that doesn’t mean I am hunting for the knockout. I want to be more technical and when the opening presents itself I will go in for the finish.”

Although she is very confident in her skill set, the first obstacle she must overcome is the scales. This is a battle Kim has lost ahead of her last two fights,

“Before fighting for the UFC, I competed exclusively in Asia so I never experienced having to travel for such a long period of time and having my body breakdown in the process. Under those circumstances, I had so many problems with my weight cuts. Honestly, I was so embarrassed because of my weight issues.”

At The Ultimate Fighter 28 finale against Antonina Shevchenko, Kim came in 4.5lbs over the flyweight limit and forfeited 30% of her purse. Almost a year later, she returned at UFC 243 against Nadia Kassem and missed weight by just 2lbs but again lost 30% of her fight money.

Serious situation

Her failure to make weight was damaging to Yoen’s reputation as well as her bank balance.

She comprehends the severity of the situation and has made some adjustments.

“I have taken a longer period of time to drop the weight and worked out my diet to make sure I get the weight down. I have taken my past experiences to better myself and make the weight.”

However she is unable to pinpoint precisely the reason for her previous failures,

“It is hard for me to reveal what reasons exactly I didn’t make the weight. I feel ashamed for my past mishaps but I will do my best to make the weight, recover properly, and perform for the fans.”

The backlash from a fighter not hitting the mark ahead of a fight is enormous. Some fans can be sympathetic to the situation but most are not. She is thankful for those who support her and puts it on herself to check all the boxes.

“It is all on me to be a professional. I am going to do my best to not have that be an issue in the future. Please be a little understanding and show your support.”