Soo Chul Kim was a breakout star in 2012. He became the inaugural ONE Championship bantamweight champion, beating Shoko Sato, Kevin Belingon and Leandro Issa.

A decade later and the Korean has enjoyed a renaissance after retiring from the sport in 2017. He has mounted a successful comeback, beating Road FC featherweight champion Hae Jin Park and Rizin bantamweight Grand Prix winner Hiromasa Ougikubo this year.

His reward for the win over Ougikubo is a bout against Juan Archuleta on New Year’s Eve. He will be representing Rizin against the former Bellator bantamweight champion.


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Massive event

He has only fought twice for the Japanese promotion and says it was an honour to be selected as a representative in the ‘Rizin vs Bellator’ portion of the card,

“It’s been 13 tears since I started fighting. Being selected for this massive event makes me feel that everything I worked for was leading to this moment.”

Kim has won the ONE Championship bantamweight belt and the Road FC bantamweight and featherweight titles. He has also made fans for his walk forwards style and willingness to take the fight to any opponent.

He recently turned 31 but says his style hasn’t changed and that his mental strength will be the key to victory on Saturday,

“I have a stronger mind than anybody and will continue to press forwards. I will grab the victory with my iron will,” he told Rizin Confessions.

Seasoned wrestler

His opponent is a seasoned wrestler and a veteran of 11 Bellator fights. But Kim thinks he can fight a home for his trademark right hand,

“Archuleta is very agile, with excellent wrestling but he leaves himself open for head shots and I will attack from various angles. I will put on a show.”

With Rizin finally acknowledging that the bantamweight title is vacant there is potentially a title shot at stake for Kim. He has already beaten the division’s reigning Grand Prix winner this year.

If Kim can beat Archuleta then he will be in pole position for a shot at the vacant belt and it sounds like the Korean is well aware of what could potentially be at stake this weekend,

“I want to put on an entertaining fight, get the KO win and earn myself a bigger opportunity.”