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UFC Busan preview, predictions for ‘Edgar vs Korean Zombie’

UFC Fight Night Edgar v The Korean Zombie: Ultimate Media Day Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is less than 24 hours away from its UFC Fight Night 165: “Edgar vs. Korean Zombie” mixed martial arts (MMA) event on ESPN+, scheduled for tomorrow (Sat., Dec. 21, 2019) inside Sajik Arena in Busan, South Korea.

Headlining the UFC Fight Night 165 fight card is the featherweight showdown between former UFC lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar, and longtime 145-pound title contender, Chan Sung Jung. “The Answer” steps in for the injured Brian Ortega on his way down to the bantamweight division in early 2020.

Handling the co-headlining duties are light heavyweight power punchers Volkan Oezdemir and Aleksander Rakic. No question this fight was designed to make or break “No Time’s” spot in the 205-pound title chase while also finding out if the Austrian assassin, undefeated inside the Octagon, is ready for a Top 10 opponent.

Before we break down the main and co-main events, go ahead and take a look at what our resident fighter, Andrew Richardson, had to say about the rest of the main card by clicking here. A comprehensive “Prelims” breakdown for the UFC Busan card and be found here and here. If you want to see the compete odds and betting lines for tomorrow night’s fights, click here.

145 lbs.: Frankie Edgar vs. Chan Sung Jung

Frankie “The Answer” Edgar

Record: 23-7-1 | Age: 38 | Betting line: +150
Wins: 7 KO, 4 SUB, 12 DEC| Losses: 1 KO, 0 SUB, 6 DEC
Height: 5’6” | Reach: 68” | Stance: Orthodox
Striking accuracy: 1559 of 3904 (40%) | Takedown attempts: 67 of 213 (32%)
Current Ranking: No. 4 | Last fight: Decision loss to Max Holloway

Chan Sung “Korean Zombie” Jung

Record: 15-5 | Age: 32 | Betting line: -180
Wins: 5 KO, 8 SUB, 2 DEC | Losses: 3 KO, 0 SUB, 2 DEC
Height: 5’7” | Reach: 72” | Stance: Orthodox
Striking accuracy: 396 of 997 (40%) | Takedown attempts: 5 of 12 (42%)
Current Ranking: No. 6 | Last fight: Knockout win over Renato Carneiro

An accurate prediction for this fight will first require an accurate assessment of where Frankie Edgar stands in the twilight of his MMA career. While it’s tempting to say he was chased from the featherweight division by the 145-pound elite, it’s also a bit misleading, as “The Answer” only lost to three opponents in the last seven years — two champions and one title contender. There isn’t much you can say about his skill set that hasn’t already been said before as Edgar remains one of the most well-rounded combatants to ever lace ‘em up, combining wrestling and striking with unparalleled fluidity, matched by a five-round gas tank that is the envy of bigger athletes. Speaking of which, Edgar finally accepted that he’ll always be second best in the featherweight division and has opted to try his luck at 135 pounds. Going 0-3 in title fights has a way of doing that to a fighter and the disadvantages he faced at featherweight remain in tomorrow’s showdown in Busan.

There is still some debate among pundits about where Chan Sung Jung fits into the featherweight Top 10. Competing under the label of “action fighter” does not necessarily make him elite, it simply means he’s willing to die inside the cage to either please the fans or finish his opponents, preferably both, and to date he’s mostly delivered. Fortunately for the promotion, “The Korean Zombie” appears to be just as dangerous now as he was before taking a multi-year break to serve in the armed forces, a layoff compounded by his inability to stay healthy. Jung has competed just three times in the last three years but each fight has ended in highlight-reel fashion, though as we saw against the elbow of Yair Rodriguez, not always in his favor. Regardless, his record remains above reproach, scoring 13 finishes in 15 wins (two more than Edgar in 11 less fights).

In order for this to be the kind of “Zombie” fight we’ve all come to know and love, Edgar will have to make some of the same mistakes as Jung’s other victims. This idea of seeing the former UFC lightweight champion standing in the phone booth and trying to slug his way to a prideful finish is foreign to me; Edgar is simply too experienced and too disciplined for that sort of tactical concession. I also think he’s smarting from the Brian Ortega knockout, which I still believe was a one-off, so expect a tucked chin and a more mobile dome. I'm sure the South Korean fans are hoping to see something spectacular, and they will, but not in the form of a “Zombie” finish. Instead, they will see one of the greatest talents of the modern era put on the same type of master class that neutralized just about every other action attraction, like the aforementioned Rodriguez.

Prediction: Edgar def. Jung by unanimous decision

205 lbs.: Volkan Oezdemir vs. Aleksander Rakic

Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir

Record: 16-4 | Age: 30 | Betting line: +150
Wins: 12 KO, 1 SUB, 3 DEC| Losses: 1 KO, 2 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 6’2” | Reach: 75” | Stance: Orthodox
Striking accuracy: 313 of 674 (46%) | Takedown attempts: 2 of 9 (22%)
Current Ranking: No. 8 | Last fight: Knockout win over Ilir Latifi


Aleksander Rakic

Record: 12-1 | Age: 32 | Betting line: -130
Wins: 9 KO, 1 SUB, 2 DEC | Losses: 0 KO, 1 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 6’4” | Reach: 78” | Stance: Orthodox
Striking accuracy: 183 of 346 (53%) | Takedown attempts: 3 of 5 (60%)
Current Ranking: No. 10 | Last fight: Knockout win over Jimi Manuwa

It’s been frustrating to follow the career of Volkan Oezdemir, who crossed over from the ranks of Bellator MMA several years back. There was a time when he existed only to chum the water for another power-punching prospect in the form of Misha Cirkunov, who even had Anthony Johnson nervous, but then “No Time” flipped the script and finished the Latvian bruiser, before following that up with his destruction of British banger, Jimi Manuwa. That led to a hasty title shot against then-champion Daniel Cormier, who brought Oezdemir back down to earth with relative ease. Two more high-profile losses would follow to Anthony Smith and Dominick Reyes, before the Swiss striker got back into the win column by planishing Ilir Latifi. That has yet to settle the debate about whether he’s a contender or a pretender, and the answer appears to depend on whether or not Oezdemir can land first. That doesn't leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling as we head into the Busan co-main event.

Aleksander Rakic has taken over for Oezdemir and Cirkunov in the category of powerful light heavyweight prospect, which seems like an odd choice of words for an athlete who will soon be 28 years old. But you don’t get the kind of playing time in MMA that you do in most other mainstream sports, so it’s not unusual to see combatants in their late twenties still working out the kinks. What we have seen from Rakic thus far has been terrifying, as the last 12 men to oppose him have all gone to the loss column without prejudice. After sending Devin Clark to the back of the 205-pound line, Rakic retired Jimi Manuwa with a thunderous, first-round head kick to improve his UFC record to 4-0. 10 finishes in 12 wins — 11 by way of knockout — left him as the odds-on betting favorite for tomorrow’s bangfest. I haven’t mentioned the ground game because let’s face it, neither of these two combatants are going to be shooting for takedowns unless it’s instinctual, which can happen when a fighter gets rocked.

Oezdemir surprised a lot of fans (and fellow fighters) by his performance against Reyes, despite the loss, and he dispatched “The Sledgehammer” with minimal effort. But Rakic is taller with a longer reach and we can’t ignore how many significant strikes Oezdemir absorbs in each fight. I understand that some fighters have to “get some to give some,” that’s just their style, but when you’re competing in a weight class like light heavyweight, it only takes one punch to change the trajectory of a fight ... or end it altogether. Oezdemir looks to be the more refined athlete coming into Busan and ordinarily that would be enough. Unfortunately, his porous defense is a liability in every fight, including this one, and he can’t rely on his opponents’ shortcomings to keep him safe. Don’t be surprised to see Rakic land something clean midway through the fight, turning legs into rubber hoses.

Prediction: Rakic def. Oezdemir by knockout

There you have it. will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 165 fight card on Saturday (CLICK HERE), starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 2 a.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 5 a.m. ET.

For much more on tomorrow’s ESPN+ event from Busan click here.

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