Get to know Junyong Park, the rising star of Korean MMA. Discover his journey, achievements, and upcoming fight at UFC Fight Night: Song vs Gutierrez. Don’t miss the action!
| Junyong Park is a rising star in Korean MMA, potentially filling the gap left by Chan Sung Jung’s retirement.
| Park remains humble and nonchalant about his ambitions, joking about being fine with anonymity.
| With a 7-2 Octagon record, Park is on the verge of breaking into the Top 15 middleweight rankings.
| Park will face André Muniz at UFC Fight Night: Song vs Gutierrez, looking to make a statement.
| Known for his ground game, Park expects a battle against Muniz and is confident in his skills.
| Park aims to continue fighting the best and maintaining his social status while climbing the financial ladder.
A sizeable gap was left in the Korean MMA scene when Chan Sung Jung decided to retire in August. With the all-action presence hanging up his gloves, it is yet to be seen who might take up that mantle and step into the spotlight. Among those potential representatives is Junyong Park, who is approaching his 10th UFC bout at UFC Fight Night: Song vs Gutierrez.
Park is as affable a fighter to talk with in the days leading up to a fight as any on the UFC roster. He is also more nonchalant about his ambitions than his peers, joking that he is fine remaining mostly anonymous.
“I don’t see myself as a star Korean fighter, but there are a lot of good Korean fighters out there like HyunSung Park, Da-un Jung and others. I don’t want to be the one in the spotlight, but there are a lot of good Korean fighters out there.”
Despite what he says, Park has established himself on the precipice of the Top 15 in the middleweight division. “The Iron Turtle” amassed a 7-2 Octagon record since joining the roster in August 2019, with his only losses coming against Anthony Hernandez and Gregory Rodriguez.
Even still, Park remains a bit of an underdiscussed figure at 185 pounds. Park doesn’t necessarily feel any type of way about that, but he does have a chance to throw his name into the Top 15 discussion when he fights André Muniz at UFC Fight Night: Song vs Gutierrez.
“It really doesn’t bother me,” he said. “All I ask is that I get a good match and just continue on with that.”
Muniz is certainly that quality matchup Park wanted. The Brazilian had great momentum heading into 2023 after wins over Jacare Souza, Eryk Anders and Uriah Hall. Back-to-back losses to Brendan Allena and Paul Craig put him in a precarious position, but he is still someone with the skills to threaten anyone with a ranking.
Although Muniz is most well-known for his jiu jitsu (he boasts 15 submissions on his record), Park assumes the fight is going to be a true battle, which is to say he expects the fight to be his kind of scrap.
“It’s definitely going to be a bloodbath,” Park said. “I can foresee it as a lot of ground, but either on the ground or standing, it’s going to be back and forth.”
Park joked that he feels like he is the “UFC hyena,” but he did not elaborate on what exactly that means.
Whether he channels his inner hyena or maintains his moniker of “The Iron Turtle,” Park is going to feel the temptation to test his own skills on the ground with the BJJ black belt.
“I’m the type of fighter that will always go for the win,” Park said. “I’ll definitely go after my opponents on their strengths if I can.”
To his credit, six of Park’s 17 professional wins have come via tap out, so he certainly knows what to do on the mat. He has also shown strong wrestling and mindful top control, so that could be a source of his great confidence.
Beating Muniz would certainly send a message to his peers, but Park doesn’t admit to having any of that on his mind. He wants to fight and fight against the best, and he’ll continue saying yes to anyone whose name comes across from the matchmakers.
He won’t admit to any more ambitious goals, instead keeping his aim centered on maintaining his social status while climbing the ladder financially.
“What I hope for is that no one knows me as long as I get a lot of money (laughs),” he said.
Don’t miss a moment of UFC Fight Night: Song vs Gutierrez, live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. Prelims start at 7pm ET/4pm PT, while the main card kicks off at 10pm ET/7pm PT.