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Fighter on Fighter: Breaking down UFC Fight Night 154’s Chan Sung Jung

MMAmania.com resident fighter analyst -- and professional fighter -- Andrew Richardson breaks down the mixed martial arts (MMA) game of UFC Fight Night 154 headliner Chan Sung Jung, who looks to return to the win column this Saturday (June 22, 2019) from inside Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina.

All-action scrapper, Chan Sung Jung, will square off with jiu-jitsu black belt, Renato Moicano, this Saturday (June 22, 2019) at UFC Fight Night 154 from inside Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina.

It’s a testament to Jung’s character and the quality of his fights that the South Korean is such a massive fan favorite after fighting just twice in the previous five years. The inactivity can be attributed to both mandatory military service and injuries, but hopefully the tide is turning for “The Korean Zombie.” This is his second fight — and second main event — in seven months.

Unfortunately, a buzzer-beater elbow from Yair Rodriguez ruined Jung’s previous main event, but the South Korean did at least prove he was still among the world’s best prior to the comeback. In fact, Jung will challenge an ever higher ranked foe despite the loss.

Let’s take a closer look at his skill set.

Striking

Given his third-degree black belt in Hapkido and second-degree black belt in Taekwondo, Jung does not exactly fight like one would expect. His ability to suddenly surge forward from the outside with a quick combo of punches does fit his background, but otherwise Jung loves exchanging in the pocket far more than most karateka.

Because of his low hand position, Jung’s primary form of defense is head movement. While fresh, Jung does a very nice job of punching while getting his head off the center line. Both on offense and defense, the dipping jab is a favorite technique of his. When pushing forward, Jung will use this spearing jab to bait his opponent into ducking into an uppercut or leaning back into overhand.

The dipping jab works quite well on an advancing foe as well. Against Dustin Poirier, for example, Jung repeatedly gave ground as “The Diamond” pushed forward, but Poirier kept his head perfectly still and stood fairly tall. Jung’s slip may not be a guarantee that his foe’s punches will miss, but it gives him a decent chance, whereas his hard jab finds its mark far more often than not. Interestingly, Jung’s scrap with Dennis Bermudez saw a pair of devoted dipping jabbers clash, making it a battle of Jung’s reach vs. Bermudez’s lower angle of attack.

The way Jung applies his right hand is another interesting technique. He is deceptively quick with the strike, which allows Jung to enter the pocket before his opponent expects. Once there, Jung will follow up with a rolling left hook or a more punches from within the clinch (GIF). Additionally, Jung makes great use of both the cross counter and pull and return cross (GIF). Both are classic uses for a sharp right hand and strong timing, skills which Jung has sharpened by spending so much time working in the pocket.

Often, Jung will switch stances or utilize marching footwork in his combination (GIF), which allows for an extra bit of distance to be covered and provides punches with considerable power. It’s also risky, and the subject of this week’s technique highlight.

The uppercut has grown to become something of Jung signature as well. On the counter, Jung does a nice job of slipping outside the jab and returning the right uppercut. Though that technique is more commonly seen in boxing, it works well for Jung opposite fighters who lean over their lead leg.

In truth, Jung’s uppercut knockout of Dennis Bermudez should’ve been somewhat easy to see coming. Bermudez has been stunned many times while leaning over his lead leg, as he does a nice job dipping his head during the jab but keeps it there for too long. Jung set up the uppercut well, dipping and loading the cross two or three times. Once he noticed Bermudez was ducking beneath the right hand, Jung switched to a right uppercut and found his mark (GIF). This approach is a quality double-threat from the South Korean, one he’s used prior to the Bermudez fight as well (GIF).

Aside from his skill in the pocket, Jung has shown some strong kicking technique in the past, even if he rarely relies upon it. This was most notably in his bout with Poirier, as his foe’s Southpaw stance opened lots of opportunities. He scored with hard roundhouse kicks to the body -- often underneath Poirier’s cross -- as well as stepping knees and the occasional snap kick.

Wrestling

A Judo black belt, Jung has proven to be quite crafty at landing his takedowns inside the Octagon. It’s not an aspect of his game that he turns too often, but Jung’s ability to dictate where the fight takes place has been successful against just about everyone aside from Jose Aldo.

From the clinch, Jung’s timing is excellent. He attempted a pair of takedowns from that position opposite Poirier in very different circumstances, and both were well-executed. In one, Jung caught Poirier backing straight up with fairly flat feet, making it easy for him to transition directly from the cross into a body lock slam. In the second example, Jung took advantage of Poirier’s exposed lead leg, distracting Poirier by controlling his wrist before dropping his weight as he hooked the outside of Poirier’s leg (GIF).

Lastly, Jung scored a slick foot sweep in his second match with Leonard Garcia. Attempting a half-hearted single leg, Jung quickly transitioned to a single collar tie. Controlling Garcia’s posture with one hand, he tripped Garcia’s foot while yanking him to the side, effectively dropping him to the mat.

Once Jung gets on top of his opponent, his ground and pound is very good, thanks to his solid posture and ability to stack his foe’s hips. After tying up a hand, Jung will collapse his arm into an elbow. Another great trick he used against Poirier was to reach back and fake the guard pass before coming down with a big punch.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

A Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt with nine wins via tapout, Jung is a very opportunistic and aggressive submission fighter.

Jung is quite tricky from both top position and his back. From the guard, Jung is incredibly active, stabbing at his opponent with elbows while constantly looking to jam one of his opponent’s arms between his legs to set up a triangle. Once the head and arm are trapped, Jung will quickly transition into the arm bar and back to the triangle as necessary, always looking to finish one of the holds.

Additionally, Jung showed off the power of butterfly hooks as a defensive tool. After rocking Poirier, Jung’s foe managed to get in deep on a double leg, driving forward before Jung could effectively sprawl. Rather than concede position, Jung went with his opponent’s momentum, using the butterfly hooks to roll Poirier into mount.

The most famous finish of Jung’s career came via twister, the only one in UFC history and a pretty perfect display of how the submission works. The twister is a back or spinal crank, one that locks an opponent’s spine into place before twisting the head/neck in unpleasant fashion. First, Jung secured his opponent in place with single leg back control, locking down that one leg with both of his leg. Once that single-leg control is in place, Jung reaches around Garcia’s head and traps Garcia’s arm behind his back, allowing him to apply pressure to the crank.

Forget a .GIF, UFC posted the submission themselves so check it out below:

Jung’s D’arce choke finish was also pretty slick. After crushing a wounded Poirier under a heavy sprawl, Jung quickly slid his outside arm around Poirier’s head and arm. Locking in the rear-naked choke grip, Jung applied a twisting pressure to force Poirier to his back. From that position, Jung was able to drop his weight on Poirier’s neck while squeezing, putting “The Diamond” to sleep quickly (GIF).

Conclusion

At 32 years of age, Jung is likely at his best right now, and despite the recent loss, he’s proven his ability to compete with elite Featherweights. Given his inactivity though, this fight may prove a make-or-break moment for Jung regarding whether he can be a title contender once more.


Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is a professional fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport’s most elite fighters.

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