Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight bruisers Chan Sung Jung and Yair Rodriguez threw down last night (Nov. 10, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 139 from inside Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
The last time we saw Jung in the Octagon, the South Korean was returning from a multi-year layoff. He won in spectacular fashion, but sadly injuries saw Jung sidelined for well over a year once more, putting even more pressure on “Korean Zombie” to return with a bang. Meanwhile, “Pantera” lost for the first time in his UFC career, prompting the prospect to take some time off to grow as an athlete and martial artist. He’s been away for a while too and somewhat forgotten as a result, but that simply meant both men were motivated to step back into the limelight.
The two opened the contest with lots of low kicks, but Rodriguez scored the harder kicks. Jung responded by doubling down on his pressure, picking his moments to explode into combinations with lots of right hands. Whenever given the opportunity, Rodriguez circled back to the center and returned to his low kicks.
At about the midway point in the round, Rodriguez began to attack Jung’s lead knee with linear kicks as well. However, Jung’s stalking offense still found it’s home, and Rodriguez was forced too run away from exchanges a bit too often.
It was a close round, as both men did damage to their respective targets.
Jung landed a nice combination to start the second round, trying to follow up with a clinch takedown. Though still dealing with the many kicks of his foe, Jung did a great job of playing with his timing, feinting and half-throwing strikes before suddenly exploding into actual offense. During one charge, however, Rodriguez timed with a gorgeous spinning elbow that had Jung shooting for another takedown. Near the end of the round, both men really let loose with their attacks — Rodriguez did damage with some scary kicks and nearly landed a flying knee, while Jung did score with a big series of right hands.
Perhaps most important, “Pantera” seemed to be slowing down.
Despite that apparent fatigue, Rodriguez opened the third with some acrobatics and effective punches. The left kick couldn’t miss too, slamming the inside of the lead leg, the body, and Jung’s arms. For the entire first half of the round, Rodriguez forcibly dragged the momentum back to his side. Jung’s face wore the damage, but that didn’t stop the South Korean from surging forward with combinations late in the round.
Another seriously competitive round went into the books.
By the fourth round, both men were worn but continued to throw at a high pace. As a result of their fatigue, the two were more willing to stand in front of each other without moving much. Both men landed, but few are more comfortable in this type of scrap than “The Korean Zombie,” who overcame Rodriguez’s speed advantage to stun him with a big right hand.
Both faces were bloody and swollen with five minutes left to compete.
Jung kept his arsenal limited in the fifth, mostly firing overhands and switch jabs to deal with Rodriguez’s range advantage. Rodriguez, alternatively, seemed to have largely abandoned his low kicks, opting instead to box with the South Korean — admittedly with the addition of spinning elbows and Superman punches. As the fight wore down, the exchanges did slow a bit, and it seemed like the big question seemed to be the judge’s scorecards.
Instead, Jung pushed forward hard one last time, only to run into an upward elbow that completely shut his lights off in the final second (watch highlights).
The end result was insane, but then, so was the fight. Credit to both men for a brilliant technical showcase that also demonstrated great heart.
Rodriguez’s hands are still awkward. He does strange things and drops his hands at bad times, occasionally abandoning his stance entirely to flee from Jung’s punches. At the same time, how can I really criticize him? His willingness to spin into elbows and backfists did damage all night, and the crazy up elbow could only come from someone willing to take chances and rely on unorthodox techniques.
Remember when UFC cut Rodriguez for a couple days? What a stupid fucking decision that would have been.
Deep in my cold heart, I feel for Chan Sung Jung. The South Korean battled all night long and — in my opinion — seemed to be ahead on the scorecards with just seconds remaining. Most of the ringside judges agreed, too. He absorbed a ton of damage to push the pace and give himself the best chance at victory, and he was within arms reach of the finish line.
Instead of coasting, Jung was true to his nature and kept pushing for the finish. It backfired terribly, but if there’s any consolation, it should be that this fight will go down as legendary for more reasons than the finish.
Last night, Yair Rodriguez scored an insane elbow knockout at the final bell. What’s next for ‘Pantera?’
For complete UFC Fight Night 139: “Jung vs. Rodriguez” results and play-by-play, click HERE!