Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will stage its final event of the year tomorrow morning (Sat., Dec. 21, 2019) as UFC Fight Night 165 goes down from inside Sajik Arena in Busan, South Korea, only on ESPN+. Headlining the event will be a Featherweight showdown between former Lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar, and perennial division contender Chan Sung Jung.
You can never say Frankie Edgar isn’t a company man, as “The Answer” has always been willing to step in and help the promotion at the drop of the hat. After Max Holloway was forced out of his fight against Frankie at UFC 222, Edgar willingly agreed to risk his shot at the title by facing late replacement, Brian Ortega. What resulted was “The Answer” getting knocked out for the first time, as well as losing his championship fight to “T-City.” Eventually, Edgar did get his shot at Max’s title at UFC 240, ultimately coming up short. Coincidentally enough, after Ortega was forced out of his headlining duties against Chan Sung Jung, Edgar once again stepped up to the plate, offering to step in and face “Korean Zombie” on just a few weeks notice. Edgar was booked to face Cory Sandhagen in early 2020 in what was set to be “The Answer’s” Bantamweight debut, but the ex-155-pound champ couldn’t pass up this opportunity.
While I would have preferred Ortega vs Jung, this fight is interesting, as well. Edgar has always been one of the toughest fighters to grace the Octagon, while “Korean Zombie” is one of the most exciting. When you mix those two together you are sure to have a highlight-filled bout. Yes it would've been great to have Edgar come in with a full camp, but a loss here won’t hurt him one bit since he’s doing UFC a solid. Cory Sandhagen may be pissed since he lost out on the chance to share the cage with “The Answer,” but at least the powers that be over at Endeavor are happy, as is Edgar, who will get a nice check (and probably a bonus) just in time for Christmas. And the best part is Edgar has absolutely nothing to lose here.
Jung, meanwhile, is looking for his second-straight win after steamrolling Renato Moicano in just a minute this past June (see it HERE). He was scheduled to face Edgar last year at UFC’s 25th Anniversary Show in Colorado before an untimely injury scrapped those plans. If “The Korean Zombie” can get an impressive win over the future Hall of Famer, he could punch his ticket to a shot at the title, which is now in the hands of Alexander Volkanovski.
Let’s not complain too much. UFC 245 just went down last week and the event gave us enough excitement and drama to hold us over until 2020. So we can give the promotion a pass for having a less-than-stellar event to finish the year, right?
Original Card Vs Actual Card:
The original main event was to feature a riveting 145-pound showdown between Brian Ortega and “Korean Zombie,” but after “T-City” suffered a partial ACL tear, he was forced out of action. Edgar then volunteered to step in and fill the void, much to the chagrin of Corey Sandhagen. After Veronica Macedo was removed from her fight against Amanda Lemo, she was replaced by Miranda Granger.
Aside from Ortega, Ji Yeon Kim also suffered an untimely injury and her fight against Sabina Mazo was canceled.
There will be only one fighter making his UFC debut on this card, and that is Omar Morales. Omar has sharpened his skills under the tutelage of Henri Hooft, so you know the man can strike. The Lightweight is 8-0 so far in his young career, winning six of those via stoppage (two knockouts, four submissions). Omar has one fight under the Bellator MMA banner, defeating Troy Nawrocki via first-round knockout. Soon thereafter, the Venezuelan-born fighter took his talents to Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series (DWTNCS) where he defeated Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) champion, Harvey Park. Now, he will look to keep his undefeated streak going when he takes on Dong Hyun Ma, who has lost two straight inside the Octagon.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
Headlining the “prelims” will be a Heavyweight showdown between Cyril Gane and Tanner Boser. Gane is 5-0 so far in his young combat career, winning his first two fights under the UFC banner via submission. Boser, meanwhile, has won two in a row.
Also, talented Flyweight contender Alexandre Pantoja will look to bounce back following his loss to Deiveson Figueiredo when he meets Matt Schnell in the center of the cage. Schnell has won four in a row so he’ll be coming in with plenty of confidence. A win over Pantoja could help him land a title shot, which is no longer in the hands of Henry Cejudo.
Also, Said Nurmagomedov will look to keep his hot streak inside the Octagon going as he steps in to face Raoini Barcelos in Bantamweight action. Nurmagomedov won his first two UFC fights, and has won seven straight, 13 of 14 overall. Said is quickly making a name for himself and if he can score his third-straight win he can start eyeing top 15 opponents in 2020.
Who Needs A Win Badly: Doo Ho Choi
Remember when Choi was considered to be one of the best prospects in UFC? It seems so long ago that the Korean-born fighter won his first three fights inside the Octagon via first-round knockout. Since then, “The Korean Superboy” has lost two in a row to Cub Swanson and Jeremy Stephens. Look, Choi is entertaining as hell when he steps foot inside the cage, but all the razzle and dazzle has to start equating to wins if he wants to prevent falling further down the totem pole. His opponent, Charles Jourdain, is also coming in with a loss, so he is hungry to get back to his winning ways after reeling off four-straight victories prior to his defeat.
Interest Level: 5/10
It’s not the most stacked card to end 2019, but we just got UFC 245 last weekend — an event filled to the brim with exciting title fights — so we can’t complain too much about the lack of star-power here. But I am not going to sit here and pretend that I’m dying to wake up early for this event.
Aside form the headlining bout, the co-main event will feature a Light Heavyweight bout between Volkan Oezdemir and Aleksandar Rakic. Volkan got back on the winning track after breaking his three-fight skid with a knockout victory over Ilir Latifi back in August. His next challenge, though, will be just a tad bit tougher.
That’s because Rakic is coming in hot with 12-straight wins, capitalizing on all four of his UFC bouts which includes back-to-back knockout wins over Devin Clark and Jimi Manuwa. While not as quick as Volkan’s ascension, Rakic has caught the eye of many in a quick way and a huge performance/victory over Oezdemir could get him in the position to crack the top 15. After all, “No Time” is currently ranked No. 8 in the world.
Enjoy the super-early fights!
Full Fight Card:
UFC Fight Night 165 Main Event:
145 lbs.: Frankie Edgar vs. “Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung
UFC Fight Night 165 Main Card on ESPN+ (5 a.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Volkan Oezdemir vs. Alexander Rakic
145 lbs.: Doo Ho Choi vs. Charles Jourdain
205 lbs.: Da Un Jung vs. Mike Rodriguez
185 lbs.: Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Jun Yong Park
135 lbs.: Kyung Ho Kang vs. Liu Pingyuan
UFC Fight Night 165 ‘Prelims’ Card on ESPN+ (2 a.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Tanner Boser vs. Ciryl Gane
145 lbs.: Suman Mokhtarian vs. Seungwoo Choi
155 lbs.: Dong Hyun Ma vs. Omar Morales
125 lbs.: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Matt Schnell
135 lbs.: Raoni Barcelos vs. Said Nurmagomedov
115 lbs.: Miranda Granger vs. Amanda Lemos
135 lbs.: Heili Alateng vs. Ryan Benoit
*Fight card, bout order and the amount of matches subject to change.
MMAmania.com 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.
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