“The Big Heart” Yoon Chang Min could not have chosen a better time or a bigger event to make his professional mixed martial arts debut in ONE Championship.
However, the 24-year-old seems unfazed by the magnitude of the event this Sunday, 31 March.
Yoon will face India’s Bala Shetty at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan, and his only thought is getting his hand raised.
“I have been a very competitive person since I was a little boy,” he explains.
“I want to win at everything I do. That is the major reason that brought me to compete in mixed martial arts.”
Yoon started out training in kickboxing in high school and then competed in amateur boxing before he gravitated toward mixed martial arts.
Now he has been handed the opportunity of a lifetime to compete in his first professional bout on the biggest stage of all, Yoon says he has taken inspiration from some South Koreans who have become stars in his homeland.
Yoon trains under head coach Yang Sung Hoon at Team MAD – one of the top gyms in the country that has produced several stars of the international mixed martial arts circuit. “The Big Heart” is excited to have the chance to follow in their footsteps.
“They really inspired me to turn pro and give it my all,” he adds.
“Team MAD has so many good martial artists who are currently undiscovered. They, as well as the big names in the gym, always push me to be the best I can be.”
Yoon caught the attention of matchmakers in The Home Of Martial Arts thanks to his success in amateur competition and on Japanese mixed martial arts reality television show Fighting Agent War.
He credits that to his a meticulous approach to his preparation, coupled with a strong competitive mindset, which he plans to harness now that he has arrived in ONE.
“I enjoy competing and always seek perfection when I prepare for my bouts,” he explains.
“That approach has helped make me a tough, solid competitor. I’m called ‘The Big Heart’ because I am always confident and never get nervous before fights.”
That confidence is as steadfast as ever heading into his ONE Championship debut against Shetty.
If he can deliver even half of what he predicts, he could emerge as a new fan favorite on 31 March.
“I don’t care about my opponent’s strengths. I am always controlling the different phases of the contest and have the sharper killer instinct,” he adds.
“I am confident both in my ground game and in the stand-up. I will use whatever is appropriate at the time to suit the situation. I am a younger, faster, stronger, and better fighter than my opponent.
“Everyone will remember my style. My performance in the cage, the weigh-in, my fashion style, and my interviews will all entertain people.”
However, Yoon does not just want the fame and popularity that comes from being a successful professional athlete.
Although he aims to earn recognition and a lucrative living from mixed martial arts, he has some ambitions that are close to his heart.
“The Big Heart” wants to inspire others, support his loved ones, and bring honor to his family and team.
“I want to be a role model for all the teenagers who are lost and confused,” he says.
“I compete for my family, for my grandfather who passed away, and for my Team MAD family.”
A win on Sunday will get him off to a great start.