Chan Sung Jung still has plenty of pop in his strikes. (Photo: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
Chan Sung Jung returns to the Octagon Saturday when he takes on exciting striker Yair Rodriguez in the UFC Fight Night 139 headliner. Zombie took four years off to serve his mandatory military service in South Korea only to return in 2017 to knock out Dennis Bermudez in the first round. Despite Zombie missing his prime athletic years as a fighter, he still has the skills to make waves at 145.
“The Korean Zombie” is one of the best nicknames in the history of MMA, but most new fans don’t know much about Jung, let alone how he got the reputation. He earned the moniker in his World Extreme Cagefighting days for his ability to plod forward with aggressive combos while eating his opponents strikes like they are nothing. In his famous fight with Leonard Garcia, the two routinely bit down on their mouthpieces and traded wild hooks in the pocket for three full rounds.
Jung keeps his hands in an awkward position, which allows his punches to come in at odd angles and catch opponents off guard. He keeps his hands low as well as wide and generally favors his right straight and lead hook when working on the lead. The main problem with Jung’s leading attacks is his defense when moving forward. He often crosses his feet when advancing and can become predictable with his attacks. He seemed to fix these faults in his most recent fight with Dennis Bermudez after four years away from the sport and it will be interesting to see how much more he has developed.
Since Jung keeps coming forward no matter how much damage he has taken, he often finds himself in the clinch, where he possesses terrific knees to the head and body. Something to note about Jung’s clinch game is how he initiates it. When wildly trading in the pocket you are bound to miss some punches, but he uses this to his advantage. Notice on some of these missed punches his hand will wind up on the opponent’s shoulder or behind the head, where he can quickly grab the plum clinch and fire off knees.
Jung is not much of a counter striker, but he does possess a beautiful intercepting jab that halts opponents from advancing. Since he keeps his rear hand low, his jab comes up through the blind angle and can be incredibly hard to see coming or time correctly. In his most recent fight with Bermudez, he won the fight by knockout with a counter-rear uppercut, showing yet another wrinkle he developed during his time off.
Although Jung’s striking is what has him heralded as one of the most exciting fighters in MMA, his grappling prowess is arguably the most impressive aspect of his game. Of his 14 wins, eight are via submission, including the first and only twister submission victory in UFC history. He claims he learned the move by watching Eddie Bravo instructionals on YouTube.