Two of the brightest young featherweight contenders on the planet will collide tomorrow night (May 15, 2012) as Dustin Poirier takes on "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung in the main event of UFC on Fuel TV 3 in Fairfax, Virginia.
Dustin Poirier has exploded onto the 145 pound scene, crushing then-number one contender Josh Grispi in his divisional debut and then winning three straight in increasingly dominant fashion. He's poised to be a huge player in the title picture if he can continue his meteoric rise.
Chan Sung Jung has more than earned his current status as one of the UFC's most popular lighter weight fighters. What with his catchy nickname and his incredible performances, there's always a reason to drop what you're doing and watch his fights. Now, after two consecutive masterful finishes, he's also on the verge of title contention. If he can put away Poirier, he could be fighting for the championship by year end.
Will Poirier double tap "The Korean Zombie?" What can Chan Sung Jung do to tarnish the "Diamond?" What's the key to victory for both men tomorrow night in Fairfax?
Let's find out:Dustin Poirier
Record: 12-1 overall, 4-0 in the UFC
Key Losses: Danny Castillo (WEC 50)
How he got here: Dustin Poirier, a disciple of UFC and Ultimate Fighter veteran Tim Credeur, has come a long way despite just being 22 years old. He got off to a very promising 7-0 start to his career on the regional circuit with no fights even going to the third round. He caught the attention of the WEC, who gave him a shot against veteran lightweight Danny Castillo in his promotional debut in August of 2010.
Poirier would come up short against Castillo, who used his wrestling to secure a unanimous decision victory but he would get right back on track less than three months later with a first minute knockout of Miletich Fighting System's Zack Micklewright.
After his victory, he informed Zuffa that he was dropping down to featherweight and to keep him on notice if any fights became available. He probably wasn't expecting to get a bout against the number one contender in the featherweight division for his 145 pound debut, but that's what happened when Jose Aldo got hurt and his opponent, Josh Grispi, still wanted to fight at UFC 125.
Poirier would go on to dominate Grispi with unrelenting physical pressure and would unanimously earn a decision victory which was a tremendous upset at the time. He followed it up by defeating UFC newcomer Jason Young later this summer with another decision.
"Diamond" has followed up his strong start with a pair of submission victories against both Pablo Garza and Max Hollaway to earn this upcoming main event and a potential title shot.
How he gets it done: Poirier is a very well-rounded fighter. His biggest strength is his offensive aggression and the pressure he puts on his opponents. He's got knockout power as well as being well versed in the art of submission while training under Tim Credeur, but what he really loves to do is just scrap it out if he gets the chance.
Poirier pushes a tremendous pace in his fights. That's what forced Grispi to wilt at UFC 125 and his aggression forces his opponents fight more defensively.
Don't be surprised at all if Poirier tries to swarm Jung early with strikes, getting in his face and throwing short combinations. He also wouldn't mind to get in the clinch or working for takedowns, as long as he can avoid getting swept and having to play defense.
The likely best plan of attack for Poirier would be to put "The Korean Zombie" against the fence and really grind on him, wear him down and dirty box. If he can tire Jung out, the five round fight will only get easier for him.
Chan Sung Jung
Record: 12-3 overall, 2-0 in the UFC
Key Losses: George Roop (WEC 51)
How he got here: Hailing from Korea, Chan Sung Jung made a huge splash in the MMA landscape when he made his professional debut in 2007. With a strong background in taekwondo, kickboxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and even Russian combat sambo, he had the skills to dominate lesser foes.
He quickly earned a reputation for his constant aggression and his mentality of taking a punch to give one, earning the nickname "The Korean Zombie." After a run in Sengoku where he was robbed of a victory by biased judges who favored Japanese fighters of Koreans, he was signed by the WEC and made his debut on Spike TV prelims against Leonard Garcia.
We all know how that turned out, one of the wildest sloppiest and most entertaining fights in the history of the sport, although he would one again lose a controversial decision. The talented Korean would learn a rough lesson in his next fight against George Roop when his style played right into the hands of the lanky American who knocked him out with a vicious head kick.
Last year Jung earned his revenge against Leonard Garcia with a "Submission of the Year"-winning twister and he followed that up with a seven second knockout against former title challenger Mark Hominick, the second fastest knockout in UFC history.
He's hoping to coral all that momentum into a potential title shot if he can defeat the rising featherweight phenom Poirier tomorrow night.
How he gets it done: Jung has strong striking skills and some surprising power as evidenced by his lightning quick knockout of "The Machine" in his last appearance inside the Octagon.
Chan Sung Jung is well-rounded as evidenced by his knockouts and submissions on his resume, but it sounds like he really believes he's a better grappler than Poirier on the canvas. If that's true, he should work to secure a body lock and perhaps drag Poirier to the ground.
"Diamond" has a much improved offensive attack, but it would be to Jung's benefit if he can force the 23 year old to play defense off his back like he did against Danny Castillo in the WEC. Granted, that would require more wrestling than "The Korean Zombie" currently possesses but if he can utilize proper positioning and attack with submissions, it could be very effective.
A key for "The Korean Zombie" will be to try to remain on top of Poirier, avoid his sweeps and work from there. The Louisiana native used to be a big time guard player and was too comfortable off his back in the past. If Jung can play offense, he might force Poirier to revert to his earlier days and potentially give up rounds.
Fight X-Factor: The biggest X-Factor for this fight is preparation. Almost all of Dustin Poirier's fights have taken place on short notice whether he had a late opponent switch or he was the one stepping in for someone else. The one time he actually got to have a full training camp to prepare for someone, it was hands down his most complete performance against against Pablo Garza last November. He dominated "The Scarecrow" and scored his first UFC finish with a second round D'Arce choke.
If he's just as mentally and physically prepared for Chan Sung Jung as he was for Pablo Garza (if not moreso) then "The Korean Zombie" could be in for a world of hurt.
Bottom Line: There's no reason to ever miss a Korean Zombie fight. He's had a "Fight of the Year" candidate against Leonard Garcia, a "Knockout of the Year" candidate against Hominick, a "Submission of the Year" candidate against Garcia in the rematch and hell, he was on the receiving end of a "Knockout of the Year" candidate against George Roop. That's all four of his fights under the Zuffa banner thus far. Expect something amazing every time he steps into the cage and tomorrow night won't be any different, win or lose.
Who will come out on top at UFC on Fuel TV 3? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!