Hyun Gyu Lim thought it was a joke when he received the offer to fight Tarec Saffiedine

The guys at South Korea’s premier MMA stable, the Korean Top Team, are fond of cracking jokes with one another. To the extent where Hyun Gyu Lim (12-3-1) actually thought it was a prank when his teammates told him the UFC wanted him to fight Tarec Saffiedine (14-3) in the main event of UFC Fight Night 34, following Jake Ellenberger’s withdrawal from the bout due to injury.

“When I first got the news, I thought it was a joke,” Lim laughed, as he spoke through a translator. “Because we like throwing jokes around at Korean Top Team, I didn’t want to believe it at first, until my coach told me directly it was real. From then on I was really excited and happy to be in the main event.

Thankfully for Lim, though, the offer came midway through his training camp. The 28-year-old was originally pitted against former Heat Welterweight champ Kiichi Kunimoto, just before the opportunity to replace Ellenberger cropped up.

Lim pounced on the chance and he found himself in the main event, in the biggest match-up of his life.

It was his performances in the Pacific X-Treme Combat, though, that first garnered the attention of matchmaker Joe Silva. The South Korean earned four consecutive first round stoppages under the PXC banner, establishing a huge reputation for himself in the process.

Then came the all-important call – a chance to fight in the UFC. And my oh my, did he thrill the UFC brass because back-to-back knockout victories at UFC on FUEL TV 8 and UFC 164 impressed both North American audiences, and UFC president, Dana White himself.

Former Strikeforce champ Tarec Saffiedine (left) and South Korean star Hyun Gyu Lim (right)

Former Strikeforce champ Tarec Saffiedine (left) and South Korean star Hyun Gyu Lim (right)

While it looks to be all Jekyll and no Hyde for the 28-year-old, Lim acknowledges that fighting and finishing Saffiedine will be hard task, but he feels that that isn’t going to stop him from pressurizing the Belgian for five rounds.

“Saffiedine is a very tough and solid fighter. I intend to be a little more attack oriented,” Lim said. “Not to say Saffiedine doesn’t like to engage, but he tends to manage his pace a little bit. So I plan to just come in with my game plan, be as aggressive as I always am, and look for the finish.”

“I definitely want to use my reach and size more than anything else. Saffiedine’s also a big Welterweight, but I’m a little bit taller so I am going to make this fight uncomfortable for him.”

As we edge ever closer towards fight night on Saturday in Singapore, the original “joke” has now turned into reality for the South Korean.

“The Ace” has just begun to hit his stride in his past few fights. A win here, and a spot in the UFC contenders’ circles could emerge.

“A win over Saffiedine would be great because it’s my first time in Singapore and in the main event,” Lim concluded. “But I’m not looking past him. I’m not concentrating on anything else but facing Saffiedine.”

***

UFC Fight Night 34 takes place at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore. The event will only be available on the all-new “UFC Fight Pass” network, which will stream proceedings LIVE starting with prelims at 6 a.m. ET, and the main card at 9 a.m. ET.

Visit UFC.TV/FightPass to start your subscription today.

Here’s the full fight card:

MAIN CARD

  • Tarec Saffiedine vs. Hyun Gyu Lim
  • Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Sean Soriano
  • Luiz Dutra Jr. vs. Kiichi Kunimoto
  • Kyung Ho Kang vs. Shunichi Shimizu

PRELIMS

  • Will Chope vs. Max Holloway
  • Katsunori Kikuno vs. Quinn Mulhern
  • David Galera vs. Royston Wee
  • Tae Hyun Bang vs. Mairbek Taisumov
  • Dustin Kimura vs. Jon delos Reyes
  • Russell Doane vs. Leandro Issa

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Thinesh John is a Singapore-based MMA journalist. You can check out some of his work over on MMASucka.com. Follow him (@ThineshJohnMMA), and be sure keep up with the latest Asian MMA news from FightSportAsia.com on Twitter (@FightSportAsia) and Facebook

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Categories: Featured, Interview, MMA, South Korea, UFC

Author:Thinesh John

20, Asian MMA nerd in Singapore.

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