First, the South Korean phenom defeated former ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat “Cobra” Gafurov at “ONE on TNT III” – a previously recorded event that aired on 21 April – to take his #5 spot in the lightweight rankings.
A week later, Ok returned to the Circle at “ONE on TNT IV,” where he shocked American icon Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez to earn his second consecutive victory in the world’s largest martial arts organization.
For the 30-year-old Busan native, it all still feels like a dream.
“I competed twice in a span of one month, so I am very happy that I won. But at the same time, I still can’t believe it,” Ok said.
“It’s surreal, so I’m very happy I got to compete against great athletes like Marat Gafurov and Eddie Alvarez, who is a legend. I’m very happy I competed with them and won.”
Both of those victories were extremely impressive – especially the performance against Alvarez.
Late in the opening stanza, Ok crumpled the Philadelphia native with a stiff right cross and then nearly finished him with a flurry of ground-and-pound.
Alvarez managed to recover and spent the rest of the match closing the distance with strikes while shooting for takedowns. But the South Korean defended those attempts well, quickly popped back up if he ever touched the mat, and stung “The Underground King” with punches.
In the end, all three judges awarded Ok with the unanimous decision.
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Despite the life-changing victory, Ok admits that he felt some pressure and excitement at the mere thought of sharing the Circle with Alvarez. Upon reflection, he thinks those nerves prevented him from earning the stoppage after dropping the American icon.
“I believe in the first round, if I picked my shots more, and I was a bit more calm, I could have finished the fight,” Ok says.
“But my opponent was Eddie Alvarez. He’s a legend, so I got too excited and wanted to finish him a bit quicker. That’s the reason why I couldn’t finish him.”
As the bout raged on, the Busan native saw “The Underground King” turn up the heat with his striking and grappling. However, that also allowed Ok to catch his breath and become more calculated in his attacks.
“I woke up, and then I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to have to be calm again. I’m going to have to bring it down a bit and then focus,’” he recalls.
With the win, Ok improved his professional record to 15-3 and cemented himself as the #5-ranked lightweight contender. It’s a status he hopes will lead to a golden opportunity.
ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian “The Warrior” Lee has been on an absolute tear, defeating the division’s top four ranked contenders. That means the next World Title matchup could come against Ok, who would welcome a clash with the dominant Singaporean-American.
“Yes, I do believe that I’m next for Christian Lee because Christian Lee cleared out the division – except me. He beat the number one, two, three, and four [contenders]. I’m the only guy he hasn’t fought yet,” the South Korean says.
“But I know that Christian Lee and his wife are waiting for [their] baby to be born, and I know that’s a blessing. It’s one of the greatest times of their lives, so I hope he enjoys all that time first.
“I don’t want to get in the way or I don’t want to bother him in that precious time, so I hope he enjoys all that time. And when he is ready to come back, I’ll be ready, so I hope I’ll be the next one for Christian Lee.”
While he waits for a potential World Title fight, Ok also hopes to remain active – even if that means facing another lightweight contender.
“I’m fine with anyone in the top-five rankings. But at the same time, like I mentioned, they all lost to Christian Lee already, so I don’t really [know] why I have to compete with them first since I am the only guy in the top five that Christian Lee didn’t beat yet,” he says.
“But if ONE Championship [matchmakers] tells me that I have to fight one more and it has to be one of the top five ranked guys, it’s fine with me. I’ll listen to ONE Championship.”
For now, the South Korean rising star will take a well-deserved break and enjoy the best month of his mixed martial arts career.
Read more: 5 Major Takeaways From ‘ONE On TNT IV’