Korean zombie evolves, targets UFC title
By Jung Min-ho
As the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter Jung Chan-sung wrapped up his nail-biting bout against Dustin Poirier with a stunning victory last month, he proved why his nickname is “The Korean Zombie,” and this time, “The Zombie” got even smarter.
It was not just Jung’s boltlike flying kicks, but also his uppercuts, and his outstanding submission movement that eventually won Jung a victory. When the 25-year-old faced the featherweight American powerhouse, he was severely injured with a torn rotator cuff that requires surgery. Furthermore, he struggled with his bum knees for quite a while. With many major and minor injuries, his overall body condition was really poor and, after intense training before the match, it worsened to the point where he was barely able to do exercises such as pull-ups or chin-ups.
“With the major injuries in my shoulders, the situation was quite bad,” Jung said in a recent interview with The Korea Times.
And then, the heartless day for the fight finally came.
Ranked fourth, Poirier was one of the biggest rising stars in the weight division with a four-game winning streak at that time. Before the encounter between Poirier and Jung took place at the main event of UFC on Fuel on TV 3 on May 15, many fans and gamblers didn’t hesitate to bet on the American fighter’s dominant win. In the end, however, “The Korean Zombie” roared to his third UFC victory, leaving no money for the gamblers on the other side.
“Although it sounds like a cliché, it was such a great feeling,” Jung said.
With a big smile, Jung said “The Zombie” has evolved. When asked about the reason why, he started talking about the lessons he learned from the game against George Roop on Sep. 30 in 2010.
“That was such a turning point in my career. The KO loss taught me that my reckless old style would not work anymore. Although I had recognized the problems of the style, I was reluctant to change with the belief that my strengths can offset my weaknesses. And, I lost, without a leg to stand on,” Jung said. “From that point, I changed everything from the way I fought to the mindset. It was a good and painstaking lesson.”
Jung’s reckless daredevil style was what earned him the nick name, “The Korean Zombie.” Although his old style has evolved into a much more cool-headed one since the shocking defeat against Roop two years ago, his inbuilt aggressiveness is still hot and his retractable claws are often exposed to helpless prey in the octagon ring.
“My nickname came from my original fighting style that rushes into the opponent ignorantly,” Jung said. “I like it and I think that really has defined who I am and what I’m capable of now.”
Sweeping aside doubts from skeptics about his victory over Poirier, “The Korea Zombie” won a career-defining victory despite the serious injuries and the win opened a door for him to challenge the featherweight championship, which is currently held by Jose Aldo. Although the date for the bout has not been specified yet, it is highly likely that Aldo will have a match against Jung in a prime position within a year. The persistent doubters still question his victory over the Brazilian champion. However, his determination for the belt is now rock-solid.
“I always try not to get distracted by negative comments. I think it is important to stay focused no matter what people say,” Jung said. “I would like to encourage the doubters to watch the game. You may see something that you are not expecting.”