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‘The Korean Zombie' Chan Sung Jung announces UFC return, challenges BJ Penn

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

One of the most exciting fighters in the featherweight division is ready to make his return.

Chan Sung Jung, a WEC veteran and one-time UFC title challenger affectionately nicknamed "The Korean Zombie," announced Tuesday on Facebook that after more than three years away from mixed martial arts, he is officially gearing up for his reintroduction to the Octagon. He also already has a big-name opponent in mind for his comeback.

"For the past six months, there's a fighter that I've been wanting to fight: B.J. Penn," Jung said. "When the B.J. Penn (vs. Ricardo) Lamas fight was announced, I thought I missed my chance. But, then I heard that B.J. Penn had a rib injury, so I kind of felt like maybe it was an opportunity for me. It would be great timing if B.J. Penn and I were ready to come back at the same time.

"Since he was at lightweight before, I never really thought about fighting him that much. But when he came down to featherweight, I would think that all of the fighters in the division would have liked to fight him. I'm one of them. Since I'm making my comeback, and B.J. is going to be coming back as well, I'd really like a chance to fight him."

Jung, 29, has not fought since losing a featherweight title bid against Jose Aldo in Aug. 2013 at UFC 163 after dislocating his shoulder midway through the fourth round. Following the setback, Jung was forced to put his MMA career on hold in Oct. 2014 to fulfill his two-year mandatory military service required of male South Korean citizens.

At the time of his exit from the sport, Jung was regarded as one of the most talented and exciting featherweights in the world. The popular South Korean emerged as a fan-favorite around 2010 with a string of ‘Fight of the Year' candidates, including his thrilling pair of battles with Leonard Garcia -- the latter of which Jung won with the only twister submission in UFC history -- and his memorable duel with Dustin Poirier that earned MMA Fighting's ‘Fight of the Year' honors in 2012.

Jung also remains tied for the second-fastest knockout in UFC history with his seven-second finish of Mark Hominick at UFC 140.

In 2014, Jung told MMA Fighting that he believed his military service would actually extend his MMA career, as it would allow him "some much-needed time to heal" and improve his abilities without focusing solely on training for a fight. Fight fans are now going to see the fruits of that time away, as Jung indicated he wanted to fight Penn in the coming months.

"I'm moving from my twenties to my thirties, from a youth to an old man," Jung said on Tuesday. "I became a father. A lot of things have changed, so things seem very new to me. It feels like it's a new beginning. I have to do my best and I think I'll do well. I need to work even harder now. I don't think there's really any more to say than that. I just hope that the fans keep their eyes on me.

"It seemed like a really long time. A lot of fans have told me that, and it feels like it was a really long time to me, too. Now that I'm back in the UFC, I'll try to put on even more exciting fights that the fans can get really excited about."