Korean-Japanese fighter Chu Sung-hoon speaks during a press conference, Wednesday, in Seoul. Chu signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) last month on a two-year deal to fight six bouts in the UFC league, and during the conference, he revealed he is targeting the champion's belt. / Yonhap
By Kim Jae-won
New Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) recruit Chu Sung-hoon has made a bold pronouncement: He wants to be the champion.
``My goal is to wear a champion's belt," Chu said in a press conference in Seoul, Wednesday.
The Korean-Japanese fighter, named Yoshihiro Akiyama in Japanese, signed a two-year contract with the U.S.-based fighting organization last week.
During the spell, the 33-year-old will have six bouts.
``I have never thought that I am weak just because I am Asian. I am confident that I can do well if I train hard as I have done so far," he said.
``I will practice in the octagon cage to adjust to the UFC."
The Osaka native is to fight in the middleweight class, and is expected to make his debut in July or August.
``I have always desired to fight strong opponents. I have dreamed of going abroad to battle in more difficult situations. That is why I joined the UFC," he said.
``I would remain in Japan if I were satisfied with fighting weak players," added Chu, who was criticized for facing small-time competitors in the Dream, a Japanese mixed martial arts (MMA) body.
``I want to pave a new way in my career."
Revealing his plan for the future, Chu continued, ``I want to fight until (the age of) 40, which, I hope, will help fighting widespread ― in Korea and Japan. I like to fight in both countries.''
The former decorated judoka, who won a gold medal at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, is called Chu rather than Akiyama, but he seems likely to debut with the Japanese name.
``I want to use both Korean and Japanese names, but I will probably use the latter because
I have Japanese citizenship."
Chu made his MMA debut at the K-1 Dynamite in 2004 and his MMA career is 12-1 with two no-contests.
He is the second UFC fighter to have Korean roots after Kim Dong-hyun.
Kim, meanwhile, is expected to sign a two-year contract extension with the UFC.
The deal will see him have four fights during the period, and make $29,000 a bout.
In addition, if he wins, $3,000 will be added to his next fight money.
The 27-year-old fighter debuted with the UFC in May 2008. He has so far recorded a 2-1 record. Kim is likely to take part in his fourth fight in the UFC in May or June.