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Featherweight fighter Dooho Choi after TUF 23 FINALE vs Thiago Tavares

Dooho Choi Returns At Full Strength

After A Three-Year Layoff, “The Korean Superboy” Challenges Kyle Nelson At UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs Spivac

Over three years removed from the Octagon, Dooho Choi returns to make his APEX debut at UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs Spivac.

The last time fans saw Choi in action was December 2019, when he suffered a TKO loss to Charles Jourdain in his native South Korea, marking his third consecutive loss since starting his professional mixed martial arts career 14-1.

Don’t let those losses fool you, however. Even though recent results haven’t gone his way, every time he steps into the Octagon, he delivers a blockbuster performance that gets fans in every arena up on their feet.

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Dating all the way back to November 2015, Choi has earned either a Performance of the Night or Fight of the Night bonus in every fight he’s competed in, including a bout against Cub Swanson which was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame’s Fight Wing in 2022.

“I was nervous at first, and after that, I felt good thinking that many people liked my game,” said Choi, reflecting on his fight with Swanson. “It was a real fight between men, and I think I had a lot of spirit compared to my skills. I've improved my skills so much that I [now] have the spirit and skills.”

Dooho Choi of South Korea holds an open training session for fans and media during the UFC Fight Night Open Workouts at City Hall on December 18, 2019 in Busan, South Korea. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Dooho Choi of South Korea holds an open training session for fans and media during the UFC Fight Night Open Workouts at City Hall on December 18, 2019 in Busan, South Korea. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

As important as being entertaining is for Choi, he knows he needs to get back into the win column if he wants to make it back into the rankings. After rewatching his fights, Choi determined that poor defense was the root of his problems in the Octagon, and he hoped to show his improvements in his fight against Jourdain in 2019. However, Choi suffered an arm fracture during the fight which he believes ultimately led to Jourdain getting the stoppage victory.

“In the last fight, I rested my arm because of a broken arm and became stronger during the break,” Choi said. “I thought there were a lot of things that I lacked, and I made up for them. I think the last fight should have been a fight that I would’ve won if it weren't for the arm fracture.

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“I had great offense, great striking, but I lacked defense. I’ve been improving my defense in the time off.”

So that’s where the three years off comes in to play. After breaking his arm, and finding flaws in his own skill set, Choi took time to rebuild his strength and reassess his training regime.

“Developing a plan and strategizing,” said Choi, detailing what he’s prioritized during his recent training camp. “And also, to not gas out and make it to the end of the fight.

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“I trained myself to be stronger. I think I've made a satisfactory result. Now the defense is better, and the overall balance is better. I’m definitely stronger than before.”

Cub Swanson vs DooHo Choi | Sleeper Hits
Cub Swanson vs DooHo Choi | Sleeper Hits

Choi tests his strength against featherweight Kyle Nelson at UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs Spivac on Saturday, February 4. While Choi respects Nelson as an opponent and what he’s done thus far in his career, Choi doesn’t see a path in which Nelson finds any success in the Octagon.

“He's been fighting for a long time, and I think he's strong enough, but I think I'm stronger,” Choi said. “If Kyle Nelson wants a striking battle, I think it's going to be an exciting striking fight, or I'm going to play a game where he’s overwhelmed by everything.

“He doesn’t have one thing that stands out that he does great. He has very solid fundamentals so I’ve strategized for that, and I will carry out my gameplan.

“I’m going to go in there and dominate. I’m going to dictate the fight with my gameplan and just show a dominant performance. I’m going to make a statement that I’m back and here for good.”

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UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs Spivac took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 4, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass