After a highlight-reel knockout win in his Oktagon MMA debut, Moon, 34, took his first loss since 2018 in his second bout with the promotion, dropping a decision to Mate Sanikidze.
Moon said he’s happy to have another fight so soon after his last bout and feels the loss taught him a lot about his weaknesses.
“In March I had a bit of a layoff because Oktagon was trying to find me fights at featherweight and a lot of guys were declining to fight me after that first performance the prior year. One guy eventually ended up accepting the fight, a tough wrestler kid from Georgia, and you know, the fight was what it was. He performed well. He put a good game plan on me by putting me on the cage a lot and it kind of showed me some of the things that I needed to work on for my future fights. I have pretty good takedown defence, but he was attacking me a lot on my weaker side, which I don’t really work. Along with that I’ve had to work on my transitioning from grappling to the striking, cardio, you know. So these are things I was getting dominated with in that fight in March,” said Moon in an interview with MMA Empire.
“To be honest with you, I think a lot of guys are going to try to resort to that because I really think I’m one of the best strikers in the featherweight division that probably the world doesn’t know about yet, but will know soon. And I feel like when I touch these guys they’re going to resort to doing what Mate (Sanikidze) did to me. Put me on the cage, try to take me down, grind me out. I feel like Konrad has a similar style to Mate, and while really I can’t say whether he’s going to be a better grappler, but what I can tell you is I worked hard these past four months in preparation of that same style. Like I said, I think Konrad is more of a grinder type, he has pretty alright striking, and I’m ready going anywhere. Whether he tries to shoot on me or whether it’s standing, I’m fully prepared and I’m going in there hoping to come back home at the end of the week with a win.”
Prior to signing with Oktagon MMA, Moon was fighting primarily under the Super Fight League banner, going 4-1 for the promotion.
Even with the regular overseas travel, Moon feels Oktagon MMA is the perfect fit at the perfect time, and its parallels production-wise with major leagues will prepare him for a move to the major leagues in the near future.
“After this one I still have another fight on contract with Oktagon and, to be honest with you, I’m really happy with them as a promotion, the pay, and the experiences that I’m gaining competing against guys from across waters in another country,” he said.
“Even the attendance of their fans, some shows can be up to 20,000 people, so it’s giving me a lot of good experiences outside of the fight itself.”
As taekwondo is the national sport of his motherland, the South Korean-born Moon has been exposed to martial arts for nearly all of his life. He began training the discipline from age five until a move to western Canada three years later, where he would also immerse himself in the granulations of kickboxing and muay thai–eventually competing in the latter at the amateur level.
It, therefore, comes as no surprise to Moon when his opponents try to stymie his talents on the feet by forcing a grappling contest in the cage, and is the reason that anti-wrestling has increasingly become emphasized in his fight camps.
“My pro debut I went up against Alexi (Argyriou), who was a very well-known British Columbian fighter, and he was one of those guys who were for sure expected to get to the UFC,” said Moon.
“When the match was scheduled I was kind of going into that fight as just the next guy expected to get beaten up pretty bad by him, you know. Because of his grapple-heavy skill set, and because I knew he had a pretty long background and experience in amateur MMA, that’s when I moved to Montreal so I could do the training camp at Tristar Gym. I wanted to get the absolute best training possible.”
The move cross-country could perhaps not have been better timed as Tristar’s Georges St. Pierre had just retired as UFC welterweight champion and Rory McDonald was on the verge of staking his claim for the same prize.
The gym, under the command of world-renowned head coach Firas Zahabi, was sat atop the sport as a hotbed attracting both local and international talent.
“When I came here obviously I was pretty mind-blown. The skill level was just on a whole other level, stages above where I could have ever imagined,” said Moon.
“First camp was rough, not going to lie. I was getting beaten up by all of these different kinds of guys I was watching highlights of on Youtube, UFC guys, Bellator guys. But in the fight (with Argyriou), it actually went pretty good even though I lost via doctor stoppage. He came in after the second round and called the fight off because there was a cut above my eye. But man, for those two rounds I was giving Alexi a good fight, it was probably 1-1. He probably won the first round with ground control, second round I was putting the pressure on and my striking was kind of getting the better of the exchanges. Then after the round the doctor called it. Alexi’s coach was impressed and he gave me one of those talks saying it could have went either way, telling me good fight, good fight. Right then and there I knew I had the skills to hang with the best guys in Canada, you know what I mean. And like I said, after my first experience training at Tristar I knew for me to get to compete at the highest level I needed to stay in Montreal. I’ve been here for about sixteen and a half years now, just training and competing and growing.”
Despite his early schooling in the striking arts, Moon didn’t turn his focus to MMA until he was 23 years old, and after only six months of training jiu-jitsu and wrestling took his first amateur fight, which he says went a lot like his professional debut.
“I looked horrible,” he said.
“I got taken down of course, but somehow pulled off an arm bar in the end. After that I was getting into jiu-jitsu competitions and whatnot, so I could start familiarizing myself more in the MMA sport, and just continued on from there. So all told I pretty much made my pro debut only three and a half years after I started training.”
Moon, as tends to be the case with most fighters, fights for something more than his personal ambitions, and said he wants to inspire people who have shared his experiences.
“As a competitor I just want to go as high as I can. You know, whether it be UFC, Bellator, or wherever,” said Moon.
“Number one, it’s for my family. I got my wife, two boys, and more boys coming up, or girls, so it’s for them. I just want to give them a better life, that’s my priority. And two, I have a community of friends who train under me and clients, and a community of Muslims. I’m a Muslim myself, so I kind of hold different classes for people from different Mosques across Montreal and whatnot, teaching them martial arts and helping them achieve good health and confidence in life. I can do all this and make a living through my passion for fighting at the same time. It’s rough; it’s not the easiest, most glamorous life. The higher you get to, the money will come, but I do it for those reasons first.”
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