UFC’s ‘Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung ready to feast on Dan Ige

Brace for some surprising information, battle followers: Chan Sung Jung loves zombie flicks.

OK, in order that’s not an earth-shattering revelation about “The Korean Zombie,” the moniker by which the longtime UFC featherweight staple is greatest recognized. But it’s true.

“I’ve watched almost every zombie movie, TV show that’s out there,” Jung advised The Post Wednesday over the cellphone, by an interpreter. “I saw ‘The Walking Dead’ up till about season four. I love zombie movies.”

Jung (16-6, 14 finishes) recommends his private favourite, “Train to Busan” from his native South Korea, to anybody who shares the Zombie’s love of the undead. On Saturday night time, the real-life and totally-alive Korean Zombie is the one to watch as he headlines a UFC Fight Night card from UFC Apex in Las Vegas towards fellow 145-pound contender Dan Ige (major card begins 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2).

And similar to his fictional namesake, don’t be shocked if there’s loads of blood to go round. Jung’s fights nearly all the time ship huge motion. He left an indelible mark in his first US bout 11 years in the past, dropping a closely-contested brawl of a break up resolution towards Leonard Garcia within the now-defunct WEC. The battle stays a basic, as he confirmed in defeat his will to take punishment so as to dish it out, all the time strolling ahead within the face of hazard.

Like a zombie, in fact.

After he misplaced his second bout earlier than the WEC merged into the UFC, including his featherweight class together with it, Jung caught fireplace. He avenged the loss to Garcia by securing the primary submission end through the primary tornado (a spinal lock) in UFC historical past, a transfer he swears he taught himself by watching YouTube the night time earlier than the battle. The subsequent outing, he starched the latest featherweight title challenger, Mark Hominick, with a seven-second knockout. 

An spectacular technical submission end of Dustin Poirier — the man who knocked out Conor McGregor earlier this year and is scheduled to face him once more subsequent month — in his major occasion debut within the UFC vaulted him into his first championship battle. He misplaced the one-sided bout to featherweight legend Jose Aldo, then opted to fulfill his necessary service within the South Korean navy.

But each earlier than and after the two-and-a-half 12 months pause of his MMA profession, Jung has remained must-see TV at any time when he fights.

That was, not less than, till Brian Ortega opened loads of eyes with a shocking efficiency towards Jung of their October headliner at UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Conventional knowledge had Jung because the superior technical striker — one who additionally doesn’t thoughts a superb brawl — whereas Ortega was thought to be the submission specialist who additionally packs some punching energy. Instead, Jung discovered himself on the incorrect finish of Ortega’s hanging revelation, getting shutout on the scorecards which may not have even been as shut because the three 50-45 scorecards would point out.

Chan Sung Jung of South Korea celebrates after knocking out Frankie Edgar in December 2019
Zuffa LLC through Getty Images

And whereas Jung careworn that he didn’t need to take away from Ortega’s revelatory efficiency, he obliged in answering what might need gone incorrect.

“I think I lacked a certain type of conditioning, mental preparation, certain things about how to handle the pressure,” Jung mentioned. “I’ve learned a lot from it.”

It gained’t get a lot simpler for The Korean Zombie this weekend as he seems in his eighth consecutive major occasion towards Hawaii’s Ige (15-3, 9 finishes). Like Jung, Ige misplaced a lopsided, striking-heavy headlining bout final 12 months, with Calvin Kattar getting the job achieved. But he bounced again with maybe his strongest efficiency to date by knocking out Gavin Tucker in simply 22 seconds in March.

While Jung has a status as a finisher, the sturdy Ige has but to be stopped as a professional and possess a variety of abilities.

“He’s a very well-rounded fighter,” Jung mentioned of his opponent. “He’s a very aggressive fighter. He’s good all around. As far as preparation, I’m prepared for anything: striking, stand-up, wrestling, jiu-jitsu.”

While neither could be thought-about a favourite to earn a title shot off a win this weekend — towards the winner of Ortega and champion Alexander Volkanovski later this 12 months on a date to be introduced — a loss for Jung may make his path to a second title shot fairly sophisticated. He’s now 34 years previous and turned professional nearly precisely 14 years in the past. Granted, he was away from competitors throughout his navy service, however he’s taken a whole lot of harm over the course of his profession.

Still, Jung factors to the UFC’s promotional rankings {that a} second crack at UFC gold and the prospect to change into the UFC’s first Korean champion remains to be attainable.

“It’s just a step-by-step process,” Jung says of working his means towards a title shot. “I think I have a good chance. I’m ranked No. 4 [on the list of contenders].” he mentioned.

Because of his lofty standing within the 145-pound division, a win may get him one other battle with a prime contender. One such risk could be towards Yair Rodriguez, who victimized Jung with a surprising standing elbow knockout with one second left of their five-round November 2018 conflict. The strike robbed Jung of what was nearly positively going to be a call victory.

Incidentally, Rodriguez’s scheduled summer time conflict towards former champion Max Holloway reportedly is off after the latter suffered an harm. Indications seem to be that the battle can be rebooked later on, however Jung mentioned earlier than the reported cancellation that he would relish the prospect to avenge that heartbreaking defeat — even when it’s not on the forefront of his thoughts.

“I’ve always wanted to definitely fight Yair again, but it’s not that big of a priority,” Jung mentioned. “He’s solely fought [twice] since our battle, with Jeremy Stephens [both times in 2019]. I don’t assume he’s in a rush to battle [me] as effectively.

“But after this fight [against Ige], I’m definitely looking closely [toward] the winner of Holloway-Yair.”

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