Every professional fighter has a break-out moment. It's the point in their career that you look back on, years later, and say, "That's when they separated themselves from the herd."
That moment may very well have come for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight Chan Sung Jung, last night, when he put on one of the better displays of mixed martial arts (MMA) that we've seen in the Octagon for quite a while. His fight versus Dustin Poirier at UFC on FUEL TV 3, in Fairfax, Virginia, on May 15, 2012, was not only the "Fight of the Night," but it also became an instant candidate for "Fight of the Year."
The performance came, somewhat, out of nowhere.
The win made it three in a row for "The Korean Zombie," including a beautiful twister submission against Leonard Garcia and a quick knockout versus Mark Hominick, but we've never seen a complete outing quite like we did from Jung in this fight.
So, where does he go from here? Does the win cement number one contender status, or will he need another victory to get a shot at the belt?
Join me, after the jump, as we discuss what's next for "The Korean Zombie."
Kenny Florian may have summed it up best, during the fight, when he simply exclaimed: "My God." He was stunned. So was I. So was everyone.
Here's the thing we can't overlook. Dustin Poirier is a stud. At a mere 23 years of age, he's still young and learning the sport, but he's very, very good. Before last night's loss, "The Diamond" had won his last five fights in a row. He was running through people.
Poirier fought his ass off. He showed great heart and determination, but it wasn't enough. It was clear that he was fighting someone on a different level.
Jung exhibited prowess in every place that the fight could go. His striking looked phenomenal. His transitions were unreal. His final submission was classic. From a technical perspective, he looked nearly perfect.
So, what's next?
Afterwards, "The Korean Zombie" called for a shot at Jose Aldo's belt. It's all he's ever wanted. The problem is that "Scarface" will be fighting Erik Koch at UFC 149, in Calgary, Alberta, on July 21.
That means, Jung will either have to wait or take another fight in the interim. At this point, it just doesn't make a ton of sense to have him fight anyone outside the top three in the division. Who belongs in that class is debatable. What is less debatable is that the four fighters who may get that distinction are all tangled up in future match ups, as Jose Aldo vs. Erik Koch and Hatsu Hioki vs. Ricardo Lamas are both set to take place this summer.
A Bellator-style tournament would clean things up, but that's not an option. Forget I mentioned it. I didn't mention it.
What we're left with is "The Korean Zombie" either taking on the winner of Hioki vs. Lamas or the winner of Aldo vs. Koch. Otherwise, the logjam just keeps backing up and creating a bigger mess.
Unfortunately, I think Hioki may just end up being the odd man out here. He's the new guy, who still has yet to notch a distinct win in the UFC. He's also victim to the fact that Jung just put on one of the better shows we've seen in a long time.
I'll cut to the chase.
In my opinion, "The Korean Zombie" should get a title shot next. If he has to sit a few months, so be it. It's the only thing that really makes sense. The winner of Hioki vs. Lamas should get the loser of Aldo vs. Koch.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Got a better idea? Tell us all about it in the comment section below!