“The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung fought “El Pantera” Yair Rodriguez tonight (Saturday, November 10, 2018) between “Platinum” Mike Perry and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone from the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, live and free on Fox Sports 1. The featherweight clash was the main event of the UFC’s 25th anniversary event, and they made sure everyone knew it with different graphics and visuals between the fights celebrating the old-school look of the first UFC productions. This fight turned out to be the perfect celebration of the UFC’s multi-cultural violence, with both fighters displaying a dazzling array of technique, as well as incredible toughness for all five rounds, before Yair Rodriguez landed the knockout of the year to finish the fight in the very last second of the bout.
Both fighters got huge pops from an enthusiastic crowd. There is supposedly a height difference but it wasn’t apparent at the staredown. El Pantera landed a leg kick that staggered the Korean Zombie. He landed his own leg kick, then Rodriguez hit another hard one. They traded punches, then Sung Jung blitzed in with a combination that lands. Rodriguez smashed the Korean Zombie’s leg again. Sung Jung punched into the clinch and landed a series of uppercuts there. Yair’s kicks are always dangerous, and he landed a couple sidekicks to Chan Sung Jung’s knee. He countered Jung as he steps in, then the Korean Zombie landed a right hand in combination. This was rapidly shaping up to be a crackerjack fight. The Korean Zombie traded jabs with Yair. He narrowly avoided eating a big front kick. Yair landed a straight to the jaw as Jung kicked. Chan Sung Jung had a leg kick checked, and when Yair shot in they rolled in a wild scramble to the bell, with Chan Sung Jung coming out on top as the horn sounded.
They traded punches to start the second round, with Rodriguez getting his jab countered. The Korean Zombie landed a leg kick, then ate a spinning back kick to the body. Perhaps encouraged by the end of the first round, Jung shot in for a takedown, but Yair held him off against the fence. Yair reversed position. He landed a knee to the groin, drawing a pained expression from the Korean Zombie. They restarted quickly. The Korean Zombie tried his own spinning kick, then landed a right hand. El Pantera landed a jab, then a high kick off Jung’s guard. He landed another chopping low kick on a forward-moving Jung. Jung blitzed in with a combination, and Yair landed a spinning elbow. They took turns trying to land judo throws in the clinch. The Korean Zombie hit one, but El Pantera dipped and sent him rolling off. This fight was already a remarkable cacophony of unusual techniques. They traded hard punches. The Korean Zombie landed a lead left hook. Yair stepped in with a flying knee to a high kick that seemed to draw a grin from the Korean Zombie. Crazy back-elbows and wild punches closed out the round as Chan Sung Jung got aggressive, living up his his moniker.
The Korean Zombie was putting on pressure to start the third round, but El Pantera was throwing up wild headkicks that were just whiffing, or possibly landing and getting no-sold by Chan Sung Jung. Jung landed a jab, then a straight right. He blocked a body kick, then ate another, and stepped in to land a combination. Another body kick from Yair. Chan Sung Jung sent Yair backwards with a heavy series of hooks. Yair was eating them and threatening with his wild kicks. Both men seemed like they could land knockout blows at any point. Rodriguez landed a stiff jab, then a headkick that Zombie caught. Yair recovered and popped Jung on the way back up. Yiar landed a sidekick, tried a rolling thunder and ate a hook for his troubles as the third round also ended in a wild exchange that saw Yair just whiff on an improvised backfist.
The Korean Zombie stepped in with an uppercut and Yair covered up and circled out. They traded jabs and lead hooks, with Chan Sung Jung stepping in with his right cross and Yair looking for front and roundhouse kicks to the body. Yair threw out a spinning backfist. The Korean Zombie slipped and Yair followed him, but both men landed as Jung moved backwards. Jung landed a couple nice jabs, then Yair returned the favor. Yair’s face was a mask of blood. The Korean Zombie sent Yair stumbling backwards with a huge right hand and they both threw flying knees, because that’s the kind of fight this was. The Korean Zombie feinted, then stepped in with a right and a left that both landed. They fenced with jabs and the Korean Zombie landed a right overhand. Yair landed a body kick, rolled in for some grappling but they were back up after a quick scramble. The Korean Zombie landed a couple more power punches before the fourth round ended.
They embraced to start the final round as the crwowd cheered. The Korean Zombie stepped in with his blitz and Yair circled out. They were standing right in front of each other, and Sung Jung landed two hard right hands. Yair stoped the knee, tried a superman punch. Jung landed a one-two. Yair tried a spinning back kick, then just whiffed on a front kick. Yair shot in and was stuffed, with the Korean Zombie landing a hook for his troubles. It was the kind of fight you never wanted to end. Yair landed a big shot, and they paused to congratulate each other before going back to beating the shit out of each other. Yair landed a head kick, then ate a slick right hand. What toughness, what technique, what good spirit. Yair slipped a combination from Jung and landed a very casual spinning backfist. The Korean Zombie landed a right hand. Spinning back kick to the body landed for Yair. The Korean Zombie stepped in, but Yair avoided all of them. As they engaged for one last wild exchange, Yair landed an up-elbow that put the Korean Zombie down and out!!! It was literally the last second of the bout! He faceplanted from one of the most incredibly weird elbows I’ve ever seen! He ducked under and threw up a vertical up-elbow over his own back to put Chan Sung Jung out cold! What an incredible finish to an incredible fight! Absolutely unbelievable knockout.
Afterwards, Yair fell to the ground in exhaustion, having given the fight his all. Paul Felder called this the fight of the year, and the finish of the year, and it’s hard to disagree. How did Yair feel after all that? “Like shit”, he replied, saying he had hurt his foot in the first round from a kick he threw. He said the title shot will be there eventually, and the only thing he cares about is being happy in the Octagon and showing up for his family. He ended his interview in a crescendo of Spanish that drew a cheer from the crowd.
Official result: Yair Rodriguez def. Chan Sung Jung via KO (elbow) at 4:59 of Round 5
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