By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Hilo’s Toby Misech read the book on Jang Yong Kim, who entered PXC 42 with a well-earned reputation as a submission artist, but knowing someone’s strength and stuffing it are two different things.
The South Korean enhanced that mixed martial arts billing, defending his Pacific X-Treme Combat 145-pound featherweight belt against Misech on Friday in Guam.
Kim pulled a kimura on Misech (4-3, 2-1) in the second round. Misech has one more fight left on a four-bout PXC contract. Kim (8-5-1 overall, 6-2-1 PXC) has won his last three fights by submission.
In the first round, Kim’s game plan was tactical defense, guarding his head and waiting for takedown opportunities. He also showed a bit of bad aim, kicking Misech below the belt once and hitting him in the groin another time, the latter low blow knocking the wind out of the Hilo challenger.
After Misech recovered, he rammed leg kicks to soften Kim’s defense and continued to employ a hit-and-reset strategy to remain on the perimeter. Near the end of the first round, Misech clocked him with a solid left hook to the head, but Kim didn’t go down and instead got a clinch and a takedown.
Kim had dominant side-control position and Misech was in an uncomfortable spot. But before Kim could go to work the bell rang. Misech was 1 for 2 in takedown defense in the first round. That stat mattered little after the break.
In the second round, Misech glanced a left hook off Kim, who countered with a flush right hand on the chin. Misech wobbled to the fence and the muscular South Korean worked a Muay Thai clinch with knees to the head.
But Misech backed away and cleared the cobwebs. His chin withstood a few dangerous shots. Then he went back in, looking to exchange blows again in what was the turning point.
Instead of taking shots from outside while catching his breath, Misech swung for the fences and looked for a home-run punch. Kim took a shot, showing his strong chin, clinched and leveraged Misech for a takedown and then unleashed his jujitsu skills.
From side-control, Kim vise-gripped Misech’s left wrist and turned his face to the floor, before bending the arm backward for the tapout submission.
Across the MMA blogosphere, Kim’s ground work has been well-documented both in print and video. He took the PXC belt away from hometown favorite and unbeaten Filipino fighter Mark Striegl by kimura in the third round in September.
According to one website, tapology.com, Kim was predicted to win by a 76 to 24 percent margin over Misech, who got in solid initial shots but couldn’t follow with a flurry of damaging punches.
Don’t be surprised if the well-rounded Kim, a ground guy with a tough chin and punching power, gets a call to the big leagues. Several PXC fighters, including Oahu’s Dustin Kimura, have signed UFC deals.
As for Misech, a 2006 Hilo High graduate, it’s a setback in his climb to the UFC. It was his first opportunity for a title belt since turning pro. If Kim does go to the major leagues, then Misech will have lost to three UFC fighters, including Kimura and Max Holloway.