There aren't many mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters who are known more by their monikers than their God-given names; however, "Korean Zombie" is one that resonates with fight fans everywhere. Indeed, Chan Sung Jung is a high-level fighter, maybe even elite, but he will always be known for his epic battles with eternal journeyman Leonard Garcia.
Those historic wars are where Jung started his journey as one of the most well-known and beloved Featherweight competitors in MMA today. He went tooth and nail with Garcia in their first fight at World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) 48, landing more effectively, but taking many blows in the process, which led to an unpopular split decision loss.
That fight, perhaps one of the very best in MMA history, was what launched Jung into becoming a cult-like fighter in WEC and now in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). It launched the iconic "Korean Zombie" brand, which has sold countless shirts and assorted merchandise in the past years, even becoming a part of Dana White's lauded t-shirt collection.
Despite the worship, Jung has a very small chance at taking the Featherweight title tonight (Sat., Aug. 3, 2013) when he takes on division champion Jose Aldo in the main event of UFC 163, which takes place at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. However, the possibility exists that he could be the man to upstage "Scarface," taking him -- and the rest of the MMA world -- by surprise.
In his last fight, Jung was a fairly significant underdog to highly touted prospect Dustin Poirier. It played out in a way very few expected, with Jung utilizing his trademark tenacity to put a thorough beating on the man some thought was on his way to a title shot. Jung didn't only utilize blistering pace and unending heart in this fight, he showed significant improvements to his game, which may just be something he can continue against Aldo.
Undoubtedly, this fight will be the biggest for which Jung has ever had to prepare, but he is the kind of fighter who can rise to the occasion through tireless training, working out all the kinks in his game to take his opponent by surprise. We already saw a vast improvement when he fought Poirier, and with a more honed striking game and a focus on his clinch takedowns and ground game, he may have a shot at taking Aldo out of his comfort zone.
Jung's striking is rather predictable and he is very susceptible to getting hit, which is something you don't want when facing a lightning-quick finisher like Aldo. However, Aldo's cardio (or lack thereof) is the over-riding question mark. Earlier in his career, Aldo didn't make the same strenuous weight cuts he now does, able to keep the same spring in his step deep into long fights.
But now with added weight, Aldo struggles to remain at his best in the championship rounds.
That is where Jung's game could make him a very real threat to Aldo's title. In the early going, I have little doubt that Aldo will have his way with Jung, landing tight, crisp combinations and shucking off takedown attempts with relative ease. It is important in these early stages that Jung remains aggressive, making Aldo work for everything if he is to find any success in this fight.
As it drags on, if Jung has not been wiped off the mat early by the motivated Aldo, he might just have a chance at making "Scarface" fight his fight, which is something that would be remarkably beneficial. With forward combinations mixed in with clinch trips, Aldo could become very fatigued and not fight as well deep into the fight if Jung sticks to him like glue. It is possible that Jung could outwork Aldo into the later rounds and beat him in a dog fight, a chaotic situation in which "Korean Zombie" has shown to be at his most effective.
Ultimately, Jung's chances are not too terrific for beating Aldo in front of his hometown crowd. That said, I believe he has a much better chance than any of Aldo's recent challengers just because he is not at all a conventional fighter. If Jung is to win this fight, it will be by living up to his nickname, blitzing Aldo for five rounds like a zombie hungry for flesh.
He isn't half the technical specimen Aldo is, but if Jung can make this fight ugly, he could take a few rounds off one of the pound-for-pound best in the world ... or even finish him late.
Either way, Aldo is in for a fight in Rio de Janeiro later this evening -- Jung will come at him like a mad dog unless his brain is temporarily forced to stop functioning. In other words, expect Jung to be at his very best for this fight and for Aldo to be in for the fight of his life.