Combat Sports

Ones to Watch in ONE – Dae Sung Park

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ONE Championship is blessed with an abundance of talent within their roster. Their promotion includes names everyone knows, such as Brandon Vera (16-8), Angela Lee (10-2), Demetrious Johnson (30-3-1), and Aung La Sang (26-10).

Although ONE Championship has a lot of recognizable names, they also have an abundance of emerging talent. The athletes in this growing talent pool are who we will focus on. This time, we’re looking at Dae Sung Park (11-2).

When Crazy Dog Bites

Dae Sung Park versus Honorio Banario
Dae Sung Park versus Honorio Banario via ONE Championship.

Looking back at it now, ONE: Dawn of Heroes was one of the most stacked cards the promotion ever put together. Literally every fight featured a legitimate star.

But one name that may not have rung out quite as loudly as the rest was Dae Sung Park. As if the the prospect of facing a former Champion wasn’t pressure enough, to do so in front of his homecrowd was icing on the cake.

He wore the pressure well and defeated The Rock via Unanimous Decision giving the Lakay pioneer his second loss of 2019.

Unfortunately this achievement was drowned out by the collective star power of Rodlek, Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, Rodtang Jitmuangnon, and Martin Nguyen who all came in later in the night.

Dae Sung Park is an overlooked star that did his due on coming up the ranks and deserves to get more time in the spotlight.

An Underwhelming Start

Road FC Intro League via Tapology.

What makes Road unique in the MMA world is that they host their own feeder and amateur leagues.

Road specifically built the semi-pro Central, Intro league, and The Young Guns undercard series to provide up and coming fighters a structured and safe environment to sharpen their skills.

Dae Sung Park reset his young career through this system after biting off more than he can chew, losing his debut in Shooto 2013.

These amateur fights did a lot in preparing the young Crazy Dog for a life of combat because both his wins went to the judges scorecards.

Not the most promising or exciting of starts.

Getting on The Road To The Belt

Road FC 001 poster via Tapology.

Not much changed when Crazy Dog went to the pro-leagues, winning his assignment in Road FC 001 via Unanimous Decision.

He would pick up a big victory in his second appearance on the main South Korean stage with a big knockout over the debuting Tae Woo Yoo. Unfortunately, like all Korean men had to put his career on hold to serve his mandatory time with the military.

When he returned he faced Kyung Pyo Kim in an absolute barn burner that became a fight of the year contender. That fight booked him a ticket to the international trials of the $1 Million Tournament to challenge then Lightweight Champion Kwon A Sol.

In those trials he faced Ranik Ultimate Fight Federation (RUFF) Lightweight Champion Rodrigo Caporal and won via Split Decision using great ground defense.

Dae Sung Park booked his spot in the tournament proper and became Korea’s hottest MMA prospect.

The $1 Million Road to A Sol Tournament featured:

  • Former Shooto Champion Sasaki Shinji
  • Octagon FS Champion Shamil Zakurov
  • Impact FC Champion Leo Kuntz
  • Former M-1 and BAMMA Champion Mansour Barnaoui
  • Bitetti Combat Champion Toninho Furia
  • Shooto Brasil Champion Ronys Torres
  • Former URCC Champion Red Romero

Dae Sung Park’s assignment for the night was DEEP veteran Kota Shimoishi. Unfortunately, the fight didn’t go his way and he lost via Rear Naked Choke in the second round.

Debuting ONE Warrior Series

Dae Sung Park versus Kimihiro Eto via ONE Championship.

Dae Sung Park was among the first batch of fighters to be included in Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series. The roster building event was nothing more than an experiment at the time, but Crazy Dog’s performance was the one that convinced ONE management that they were onto something.

Park beat Kimihiro Eto via Knockout in the first round of the main event and he earned a ONE contract along with Akihiro Fujisawa and Woon Gyeom Kim.

Other notables in this card were:

  • Ali Motamed
  • Emmanuel Onyedikachi
  • Michael Walker
  • JD Hardwick
  • Jerry Olsim
  • Ismael Bandiwan
  • Nyrene Crowley
  • Muhammad Adib Sulaiman

The series would go on to produce more stars and even champions, but it was this first event, where he was the biggest star, that got the ball rolling.

Slowly Climbing the ONE Ranks

Dae Sung Park didn’t have the meteoric rise that other OWS alumni seemed to experience once they got onto the main stage. Crazy Dog started slow in his first fight in ONE, matched up against struggling journeyman Trestle Tan and was expected to dominate, but had to settle for another Unanimous Decision.

Park was sidelined for a full year after this fight because of a medical issue contributing even further to his lack of recognition and had to settle for a fight with fellow OWS alumni Kimihiro Eto for his return.

Fortunately, he seemed to have the Japanese fighter’s number, knocking out Eto again, this time in the second round.

Eager to make up for lost time, Park took another fight just two weeks later against a much bigger name in Honorio Banario. The Korean took full advantage of the former Champion’s funk and outperformed the Lakay pioneer en route to another Unanimous Decision.

The Next Korean Champion?

Soo Chul Kim via MMA Fighting.

Since Soo Chul Kim won the inaugural Bantamweight belt back in 2012, ONE has not had another South Korean champion.

Though he’s often overshadowed by his more recognizable compatriots Dae Hwan Kim and Yoon Chang Min, Dae Sung Park has proven to be a functionally sound fighter even if not all that flashy.

The path to the belt is often a marathon and with each of these hard fought wins Crazy Dog is building valuable experience. Learning what it takes to win when the fight goes deep into the later rounds.

This style has worked for him so far. Only time will tell whether this slow and steady approach will bear fruit in the form a golden belt at the top of the Lightweight division.

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