Soo Chul Kim is a 16-5-1 bantamweight(and occasional featherweight) fighter fighting out of Wonju, Gangwon-do, South Korea. He fights out of Team Force, a gym in his hometown that’s of a pretty good size but doesn’t train other fighters of note. Kim has competed mainly for Road FC and ONE FC, actually appearing on both promotion’s first ever cards(and ONE’s first ever fight) and has been both organization’s bantamweight champion. He’s also made an appearance for RIZIN.
- Given Name: 김수철, Kim Soo Chul
- MMA Record: 16-5-1
- Current Win Streak: 9”
- Age: 25
- Weight Class: Bantamweight
- Affiliation: Team Force
- Height: 5’7″ (171cm)
- Fighting out of: Wonju, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Kim’s career had an unusual beginning as he started with an inauspicious 4-4 record where he defeated nobody of any real note. Then something clicked for him and he has gone 12-1-1 since, only losing to Bibiano Fernandes(who is undefeated at 135) and beating current or future UFC veterans in 7 of his 12 wins, while also becoming a champion in ONE FC and Road FC.
(Pretty sure this vid isn’t “legal”, so we won’t embed it here.)
The turning point in Kim’s career came in ONE, where after losing his first two fights in the organization he beat Kevin Belingon to earn a rematch with Leandro Issa(who had beaten him in ONE’s first ever fight) for their inaugural bantamweight title. This was his eleventh career fight. Kim was a significant underdog to Issa, who hadn’t lost a fight in 4 years. Starting the rematch, Kim pressured Issa into the fence but got reversed. Both continued to struggle against the fence but Kim got taken down(despite a fence grab). Kim managed to stand up but Issa held a front headlock to continue to threaten him with the takedown,and eventually took Kim down again. Issa advanced to side control but lost position & Kim started hammering him with some hard shots. Both guys ended up on the feet and brawled to the bell. In the second round, Kim came out fast and quickly starched Issa with a very fast right hand that I had a hard time telling exactly what punch it was, then followed up with G & P for the stoppage.
After losing the title to Fernandes Kim left ONE FC for Road FC where he has had a lot of career success. In his 20th fight he fought at featherweight against Tuerxun Jumabieke, a Chinese fighter who had a stint with the UFC where he unfortunately went 0-3. Kim almost immediately hurt Tuerxun with a body kick but when he rushed in he got taken down. Tuerxun used a turtle like position holding on to Kim’s legs in order to recover but didn’t seem to be in a position to threaten any damage or submissions. The referee eventually called a break. Kim came forward witha fast combination that didn’t seem to connect, but threw another one that did better and started swinging more wildly. Tuerxun got overwhelmed by the pressure momentarily but managed to reset. However, Kim threw another unusual right hand, this one more clearly being a hook with an overhand angle, and Tuerxun stumbled and fell. Kim followed up with some very fast hammerfists on the ground for the finish, and showed good sportsmanship looking over Tuerxun afterward.
Road FC has also uploaded a highlight video which shows more of Kim’s explosiveness and his finishing ability in a short time. It also shows Kim attempting a spinning back kick to a grounded opponent’s butt, the kind of innovation needed in the fight game.
Kim is established enough it feels odd to call him a prospect, but he has yet to find a consistent gig in a major organization. He’s an exciting fighter with good finishing ability for bantamweight, who can stop opponents both with knockouts and submissions. Although he has only fought in Asia so far, he has beaten enough UFC veterans to seem a fit for that organization. Bellator is also in serious need of more bantamweight contenders, so either organization would be good to see him in, although perhaps he would feel more comfortable staying in promotions he’s already worked in. It would definitely be nice to see him in RIZIN’s bantamweight tournament as well. Personally however, I strongly feel Kim is UFC level.