Although Junyong Park hails from Korea, he’s getting pretty familiar with Las Vegas as he readies for his fifth fight in the fight capital of the world at UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs Spivac. He has enjoyed much more success than the typical 31-year-old visiting Vegas does, as well, picking up three wins in four trips. At this point, he thinks of Vegas as his “second home.”
MORE FIGHT NIGHT: Derrick Lewis' Greatest Hits | Tatsuro Taira
That said, for as friendly as the confines inside the UFC APEX have been to “The Iron Turtle,” he does have an itch to get out and do his thing in front of a packed arena.
“I do feel comfortable fighting at the APEX,” Park told UFC.com. “I pretty much memorize all the roads here in Vegas, but if there's an opportunity, it would be nice to actually fight in different places.”
Park, who is fresh off a submission win over Joseph Holmes, is one of the more underrated combatants in the middleweight division. In seven starts, he only has two losses in the Octagon. His first came in his debut against the always-dangerous Anthony Hernandez. Park’s second defeat came against Gregory Rodrigues in a bout which Park held the upper hand for the majority of the action before “Robocop” did “Robocop” things and miraculously turned the tide.
Even so, a 5-2 record since 2019 with a well-rounded, action-friendly style is something that would usually create some buzz around a fighter. Although that hasn’t quite happened for Park just yet, he knows the best way to facilitate some excitement around himself is to keep doing what he has been doing.
Order UFC 284: Makhachev vs Volkanovski
“I'm fine with (being overlooked),” he said. “I'm just going to continue winning and, eventually, they may look at me and say, ‘Hey, you know, I might be the next (contender).’”
First, he has to deal with Denis Tiuliulin, an imposing presence who has split his first two fights in the promotion.
Tiuliulin is known for coming out quickly and ferociously. Of his 11 wins, eight have come in the first round. However, that has backfired on occasion. Of his six losses, four came before the judges’ scorecards were needed.
This bodes well for the durable Park, who looks forward to the chess game of the matchup he has in front of himself.
The Road To UFC Finale: What You Need To Know
“If he comes for a (takedown), I'm going to go ahead and double back,” he said. “And as far as striking and stuff like that, just counter and just take them down and make it seem like it's a rock, paper, scissors match.”
Three wins in a row is a nice run to put Park within shouting distance of the top-15, even though he might need a win over a more notable name in the next couple times out. However, he has all the ingredients to make noise in the division. Between a well-rounded skillset, a propensity to chase the action in fights and his memorable “Iron Turtle” nickname, Park has all the pieces you’d want in a fan-favorite.
Regarding his nickname, which he notably changed from “Ninja Turtle” to “Iron Turtle” upon entering the UFC, he still has a soft spot for those four martial arts savvy reptiles. When asked who is his favorite, he selected the nunchuck-wielding Michaelangelo, calling him a “goofy ass.”
Park, who enjoys a joke or two when he isn’t engaging in competition, brings it back around when asked if there’s anything in particular he wants to focus on in this fight.
Plainly, he’s looking to get his hand raised once more by any means necessary.
“If he tries to hit me, just avoid it as much as much as possible,” Park said. “Try and take him down and win the match.”
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!