Written By: Derek Moody
Tweet To: @DerekMoody619
The featherweight division was once taken over by “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (13-4 8 submissions 3 ko’s 2 decisions). His exit was unfortunate, injured in a title fight then forced to join the military for his mandatory 2 years to the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. A void needed to be filled, the Korean presence that won over the fans, was left to UFC vet “The Stun Gun” Dong Hyun Kim and newcomer “Korean Superboy” Doo Ho Choi. There has been an emergence of Asian fighters, primarily from South Korea but none have had such a presence as the Korean Zombie. The Stun Gun is definitely a fan favorite but he has yet to break the top 5 preventing him from title contention. The Korean Zombie did break the top 5, he did challenge for a title and left us all wondering what was next. The flashy finishes that left us in awe was gone without a proper goodbye. Left behind were remnants of a twister distilled in our minds.
How could anyone not respect the work he’s built up over the years. His resume alone demands we wait out the mandatory military service for his return in hope that he picks up where he left off. Some may ask what I’m talking about, well I’m referring to his fight of the year in 2010 and 2012, his submission of the year in 2011 and 2012, his 7 second knockout of Mark Hominick, former title challenger.
At the height of his mma career, he had to put it on pause. Over 2 years away from the octagon, has several pros and cons, just depends on how you utilize the time away. In his case, a major pro, as he was able to heal and train without the pressures of weight cutting and demand of travel for the events. His last fight was in August of 2013, his mandatory service began on October of 2014 and comes to an end October of this year. Korean Zombie is planning his return to the Octagon late 2016 or early 2017 depending on his training once he’s free from his military obligations. The average age for a featherweight is 28 years old, Jung is 29 so he still has a lot of fight in him.
One of the most marketable fighters on the roster, Korean Zombie built up a fan base quickly with his back and forth battles with Leonard Garcia. He expanded that fan base with his impressive win over Dustin Poirier. At the time, he had the most popular and best selling UFC t-shirt which is still relevant today. Dana White, the President of the UFC, has worn several different Korean Zombie shirts to many UFC public events, weigh in’s, press conferences and The Ultimate Fighter tv show, so it’s pretty obvious how he feels about Chan Sung Jung.
Chan Sung Jung was the first fighter to submit an opponent using a twister (twister is a sideways body bend and neck crank, that pushes the head towards the shoulder while controlling the body, causing neck to flex beyond the normal limit) in the UFC. Originally a wrestling submission hold made popular in the jiu jitsu world by Eddie Bravo at 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu.The submission instantly catapulted The Korean Zombie to stardom and further proved how threatening he was on the ground.
In his title fight against José Aldo, the champion was hesitant to go for his patented crippling leg kicks that made him such a feared striker initially because of the takedown threat. Jung has 8 submissions to his credit so the champion wanted no parts of Jung in a dominant position. The first 2 rounds Aldo was able to smartly edge out Jung while battling a foot injury that was developed around the 2nd round. The third round, Korean Zombie was able to gain some ground, out striking the champ and building some momentum. The 4th round was the turning point, Aldo was breathing heavy and Jung was striking effectively but threw a wide punch which dislocated his shoulder. Jung attempted to hide the injury and pop his shoulder back in place but it was too late, Aldo swarmed in knowing the end was near. Jung was no longer able to fight back and could barely defend himself resulting in a TKO loss. His lone title fight ended in horrible fashion due to the self inflicted injury and not the skill of the opponent. The way the fight was going, Aldo was on track to win via decision but there’s no telling when the Korean Zombie was going to turn it on like his previous fights that landed him the title shot.
The featherweight division isn’t exactly how it was when he left. He missed the entire takeover of Conor McGregor and the downfall of José Aldo whom he fought last. Conor was 2 fights in but he’s dominance didn’t really start until after the Max Holloway fight when he was predicting what round he’d put people out in. Sean Shelby most likely would have booked that fight seeing how marketable the 2 international fighters are. What round would McGregor have picked a knockout seeing that Korean Zombie is a submission specialist and that seems to be McGregor’s achilles heel? If McGregor doesn’t move up permanently in weight, the fight may be a possibility in the future. Whether they fight or not, there’s plenty of great matchups in store for the Korean Zombie as he plans his second attempted takeover of the division. We’ll find out later this year or early next year what’s in store for Chan Sung Jung.