SPORTS

‘Korean Zombie’ ready to feast on champion flesh

By Korea Herald
  • Published : May 28, 2012 - 19:20
  • Updated : May 28, 2012 - 20:03
Korean Ultimate Fighting Championship competitor Jung Chan-sung has met numerous skeptics, but that is exactly how “The Korean Zombie” likes it and how he hopes to fight for the featherweight championship.

Consistently seen as the underdog before every one of his UFC events, Jung not only beats opponents but does it with a style that has earned the respect of fans and fighters alike.

“I’ve always fought as the underdog. It is easier for me and I don’t feel a lot of pressure going in,” Jung told The Korea Herald.

And maybe it is that ease that allows the 25-year-old to be in his own element and earn recognition with every fight.

Jung’s UFC debut against Leonard Garcia on March 26, 2011, was dubbed both the Fight of the Night and Submission of the Year for claiming the UFC’s first twister submission.

The Zombie struck again after knocking out Mark Hominick barely after the bell stopped ringing in a record-tying seven seconds which won him Knockout of the Night on Dec. 10, 2011. Jung holds the record for the fastest official knockout in UFC history against Todd Duffee.

And Jung’s latest bout against Dustin Poirier on May 15 had the crowd on their feet again, before Jung finished the fight with a D’Arce choke that gave him both Fight and Submission of the Night. Many followers of the sport also believe that Jung’s performance against Poirier has made him a contender to be named the Fight of the Year.

“I think I am really just lucky in that regard,” said Jung, who has a record of 13 wins and 3 losses.

“I just fought with the fighting style that I excel in and through that I just happen to walk out with a good match and a good record.”
UFC fighter Jung Chan-sung (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

And although Jung said he still uses the same fighting style as before, it would be a stretch to say he is the same fighter.

True to his nickname, Jung took a beating from Poirier. However, the grace in transitions between grapples surprised those watching the octagon ― an improvement that could be attributed to Jung’s growing experience on the mat.

“I think in this fight I was much more composed,” said Jung, who noted after the fight that he was able to tune into his coach’s directions unlike before.

“If I didn’t have experience, it would have been incredibly difficult to hear him. I think in the past, I hadn’t been able to hear my coach,” he said.

His devastating flying knee kicks and powerful punches that usually find their mark certainly don’t hurt either.

Despite Jung’s cage-rattling performances, he will be the underdog going into the title fight against reigning featherweight champion Jose Aldo or challenger Erik Koch. And although Aldo could be dethroned by Koch, the Zombie is hoping to take a bite out of the champion.

“I think Aldo will come out on top, but before the results come out I will train without specifically focusing on Aldo,” he said.

Aldo and Koch face off on July 21, and Jung will face the winner of that match, possibly before the end of the year.

“(Aldo) really is relentless,” said Jung, equating the Brazilian fighter to a schoolyard bully.

“But I can still win,” he said with stern confidence.

“I will go in more strategically prepared. If I just create a strategy with my team, I can definitely win.”

Behind all the blood and glory, in Korea Jung is just a humble man from humble roots.

“My family is really just kind of your average family, my mom stays at home and my father goes to work,” he said.

And like worried parents, even if they don’t express it, they never miss a chance to support their only son in his fights.

“Because they’re from Gyeongsang Province, they don’t really express their emotions.”

“My father was the first one I called (after his most recent win) and he told me I did a good job and asked if I was hurt.”

And it is amid his humble roots that the UFC fighter wishes to enter his next card.

“For me personally I would be really happy if we could fight in Korea,” said Jung, after mentioning the hardships foreign fighters face in the UFC during a post-fight press conference.

“I can only imagine how happy I would be fighting in front of my family, my friends, the people I know.”

And as the first fighter to really put Korea on the UFC map, his efforts do not hurt his cause, according to UFC Asia Managing Director Mark Fischer.

“We continue to study the options for bringing a major UFC event to Korea and all our passionate UFC fans in this great country. Certainly, Jung’s outstanding performance and victory brings this idea even closer to reality.”

By Robert Lee (robert@heraldcorp.com)