Kevin Chung will be hoping to erase the memories of his first-ever professional defeat when he meets Masakazu Imanari in a bantamweight contest at ONE: Heroes of Honor in Manila, Philippines, on April 20.
Imanari will also be looking to return to winning ways after he had his three-fight winning streak snapped in January.
Does experience matter?
We’re about to find out.
Despite stepping into the cage just six times in his short career, ONE Championship has matched Chung against a 55-fight veteran with nearly two decades of experience.
Fights aren’t won or lost by comparing resumes, though.
Chung represents somewhat of the new generation of mixed martial artists that are coming through the sport in recent years. With a solid grappling background and a high-level of creativity with his striking, Chung presents a significant challenge for any adversary.
Despite falling short against Kevin Belingon, the experience would have been greatly beneficial for the 25-year-old. During the 15-minute contest, Chung attempted to throw off the dangerous Filipino fighter by constantly changing his stance. But he was unable to shake the rhythm of Belingon, who started to get things going in the second round. At the end of the contest, however, Chung had lasted the distance with the powerful striker – something that cannot be said about Belingon’s two prior opponents.
Much like Chung, Imanari’s last contest was surely a game-changer for him in many ways. The Japanese three-time former DEEP champion was smothered by Yusup Saadulaev and disallowed from getting any form of momentum going.
The recipe to defeat Imanari is now out there for all to see – and has been for many years now – it’s just a matter of whether Chung can replicate it when the time arrives.
Jake Nichols is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief. Previously, he was the MMA Editor at RealSport.