UFC Singapore: Believe it or not, Kyung-Ho Kang and Shunichi Shimizu are MMA fighters

Kyung-Ho Kang of South Korea (left) and Shunichi Shimizu of Japan square off at UFC media day on Thursday at MBS. (Yahoo Photo / Cheryl Tay)
Kyung-Ho Kang of South Korea (left) and Shunichi Shimizu of Japan square off at UFC media day on Thursday at MBS. (Yahoo Photo / Cheryl Tay)

One looks like a Korean pop star with his boyish good looks, the other could pass for a Japanese salaryman rushing to catch the train.

But Kyung-Ho Kang and Shunichi Shimizu are in fact professional mixed martial artists (MMA) signed to global giant Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The two bantamweight (61kg) talents will be fighting each other on Saturday at Marina Bay Sands in the UFC's first-ever show in both Singapore and Southeast Asia.

Kang, 26, is nicknamed "Mr Perfect", but his UFC journey has been less than ideal so far: his debut against Alex Cacares was marked a "no-contest" after the latter failed a drug test, and his next fight was a unanimous decision loss to Chico Camus.

Kang in action during UFC open workouts on Wednesday at MBS. (Cheryl Tay Photo)
Kang in action during UFC open workouts on Wednesday at MBS. (Cheryl Tay Photo)

[See more pics of UFC Singapore pre-fight events here]

No wonder the chiseled South Korean is bent on redeeming himself by “winning this bout (against Shimizu) with a resounding result”.

Despite Kang's outright confidence, he would do well not to underestimate his opponent, given the heartfelt motivation that fuels 28-year-old Shimizu.

The UFC debutant was initially apprehensive about getting into MMA as he was “afraid of getting punched” and was set to become a policeman instead.

He only devoted himself to cagefighting in a bid to transform his introverted personality to become a “people person".

Shimizu at UFC media day on Thursday at MBS. (Getty Images)
Shimizu at UFC media day on Thursday at MBS. (Getty Images)

But Shimizu nearly left the sport after battling to a tough draw with Tomoya Miyashita in 2005, in only his second fight since turning pro that same year.

“I wanted to quit after that fight,” he recalled. “But he (Tomoya) unfortunately passed away later and that made me want to show him who I have become.”

The Japanese has since amassed a decent record (28-8-10) over 46 fights and will step into the octagon on Saturday riding a five-fight win streak.

He has achieved this despite not being a full-time fighter and having to constantly juggle training and an administrative job, but Shimizu relishes the challenge like the competitive worker -- sorry, mixed martial artist -- that he is.

More MMA content on Yahoo Sports

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting