Chan Sung Jung, the featherweight with the cool nickname and even cooler fights and finishes, took his name off the “Whatever happened to?” list on Saturday night.
After three-and-a-half years away, Jung returned in the main event at the Toyota Center in Houston. He took out Dennis Bermudez with an uppercut just 2:49 into the first round.
The Korean Zombie, as he’s best known, made an instant impression on American fans in his WEC debut in 2010 with one of the best fights in MMA history. On paper, it was a split-decision loss to Leonard Garcia, but most had him winning that fight, a crazy brawl that brought back memories of the Don Frye vs. Yoshihiro Takayama fight in Japan. It immediately made the Korean Zombie a name to anyone watching.
And he lived up to that nickname. Garcia would throw wild punches and Jung would stand there and walk through them, like a zombie. Almost all of his previous UFC and WEC bouts were memorable.
In five fights between 2010 and 2012, he had two fights that received several match of the year honors, the first Garcia fight for 2010 and a win over Dustin Poirier fight in 2012. He had two fights that also received submission of the year honors, the second Garcia fight in 2011 and the Poirier fight.
In his rematch with Garcia, he used a twister submission, the first of its kind in UFC history and one of the most memorable submissions in recent years.
Another fight during that period was a seven-second knockout over Mark Hominick, among the quickest finishes in UFC history.
All of that led him to a shot at Jose Aldo’s championship on Aug. 3, 2013, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In that fight, Jung dislocated his right shoulder in the fourth round and got overwhelmed with punches. And then he was gone, serving a two-year stint in the South Korean military, cutting out what should have been some of the best years of his career.
Bermudez seemed like the wrong kind of opponent if there was going to be any rustiness due to so much time off. But the fight ended so quickly that you couldn’t tell much, past that Jung’s takedown defense was strong. Bermudez landed hard punches and Jung lived up to his nickname, reacting once again like a zombie would.
As entertaining as some of his fights or finishes were, the Aldo fight brings up the question as to his upward mobility. Even before the injury, he was losing every round against Aldo, who was one of the most dominant fighters in the sport at that time. And except for the one loss to Conor McGregor, that’s the one constant of the division between then and now.
Let’s look at how fortunes changed and the future directions of five winners on a show that had a number of surprising results.
CHAN SUNG JUNG — For Jung, you are looking for two things. The first is the kind of opponent that can have an exciting match with him. The UFC thought enough of him to headline after being gone for years, likely based on the idea that he and Bermudez had reputations for action fights.
The other is someone who it makes sense for him to fight, both as a test, and someone where a win can get him closer to a top position. In this case, one person hits all the buttons, Cub Swanson (24-7), who is coming off a Jung-Garcia fight of his own in his Dec. 10 win over Doo Ho Choi.
JESSICA ANDRADE — Saturday’s standout fight pitted Andrade (16-5) against Angela Hill, the Invicta FC strawweight champion. Andrade connected hard and often for three rounds. Andrade easily won the decision in a fight where Hill showed amazing resilience by lasting the distance.
The three rounds, fought standing, could set up Andrade for a shot at UFC strawweight champion Jonna Jedrzejczyk (13-0). One would think the two candidates for that title fight are Andrade and Michelle Waterson (14-4). Andrade would appear to be a tougher test, but Waterson has the advantage in the marketing aspect. She’s the bigger star and her last fight was with a bigger spotlight. It’s unfair, but we’re long past the point of looking for fairness in either how matches are made, or what fans want to see.
Waterson is coming off a win on FOX in the main event of one of the most-watched television fights in years, beating Paige VanZant. Andrade was in the main card opener, put on first in a show with likely significantly fewer viewers. even though lower ranked fighters in her weight class fought in the No. 2 bout on the show.
Andrade showed aggressiveness and power, but she’s hardly the technical standing wizard that Jedrzejczyk is. But the key takeaway of Saturday’s fight is Andrade went three rounds, and kept up a fast pace through it all. For the opponents that Jedrzejczyk doesn’t overwhelm from the start, the later rounds have turned into the champion’s ally.
If that title fight goes to Waterson, Andrade should be looking for a fight with either Claudia Gadelha (14-2) or Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-1), the two former title contenders that gave Jedrzejczyk her toughest competition.
FELICE HERRIG — Herrig (12-6) handed Alexa Grasso her first loss in taking a three-round decision.
Herrig immediately called out Waterson and VanZant after the fight, two match-ups that would keep her in the spotlight. VanZant beat Herrig once before. If Waterson isn’t getting a title shot next, that would be a possibility. Hill (6-3) would be another possibility.
VOLKAN OEZDEMIR — Oezdemir (13-1) scored a major upset in his UFC debut, beating Ovince Saint Preux, a strong favorite who came into the fight as the No. 6 contender for the light heavyweight championship.
It was consensus that Oezdemir won the first round and Saint Preux took the third. During the second round, which the crowd heavily booed, Saint Preux got a takedown and did the most damage late in the round after hurting Oezdemir with a left. Oezdemir got the nod on two scorecards, and he did land more by a 26-24 margin according to Fightmetric.com. But a media poll on MMADecisions.com saw 88 percent of media scores going in favor of Saint Preux.
Even despite beating the No. 6 guy, I’d be hesitant to look at him in the mix with the top guys so soon. The decision was controversial, and the crowd booed it. Instead, Oezdemir should get one more test, with someone like Nikita Krylov (21-5) or the recently debuting Jordan Johnson (7-0).
CURTIS BLAYDES — In an aging heavyweight division, where 14 of the top 16 fighters are over 30 and most several years past that, Blaydes, at 25, comes across like someone who may be challenging for a top spot just based on the natural attrition headed the division’s way.
Blaydes (7-1) rag dolled Adam Milstead, including seven power takedowns in the first round alone. Blaydes has finished all seven of his opponents, and his lone loss, is to Francis Ngannou, who has been the most impressive of the new guard of heavyweights.
A good next test would be Roy Nelson (22-13), who has historically shown good takedown defense.
Source:: mma fighting