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UFC Busan predictions

UFC Fight Night: Weigh-Ins
Chan Sung Jung will compete in the UFC Busan main event Friday night.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Just when you thought the UFC was done for the year, it sneaks in one last card with some surprising title implications.

No, we’re not getting the main event we were originally hoping for. Brian Ortega was supposed to fight Chan Sung Jung in a bout that could easily have stolen “Fight of the Year” honors in the final days of 2019, but instead we have former lightweight champion (and future bantamweight contender?) Frankie Edgar replacing an injured Ortega to take on “The Korean Zombie” in Saturday’s UFC Busan featherweight main event.

With his fan-friendly style, Jung is never far from a title opportunity and a definitive win over Edgar—a two-time title challenger at 145 pounds—would bolster his chances for a shot at newly crowned champion Alexander Volkanovski. On the other side, Edgar can end his featherweight run on a high note with a win over the Zombie before starting his new life at 135 pounds.

In a bout that could have an even more immediate impact on the championship picture, one-time light heavyweight title challenger Volkan Oezdemir faces Aleksandar Rakic. Both men would be fresh challenges for Jon Jones, with Oezdemir coming off of an impressive KO of Ilir Latifi and the 27-year-old Rakic yet to taste defeat in four UFC appearances.

Also on the main card, “The Korean Superboy” Doo Ho Choi returns to fight Charles Jourdain in a featherweight bout, and Korean fighters Da Un Jung, Jun Yong Park, and Kyung Ho Kang look to defend home court against their respective opponents Mike Rodriguez, Marc-Andre Barriault, and Liu Pingyuan.

What: UFC Busan

Where: Sajik Arena in Busan, South Korea

When: Saturday, Dec. 20. The seven-fight preliminaries will start on ESPN at 2 a.m. ET, with the six-fight main card starting at 5 a.m. ET on ESPN+.

Frankie Edgar vs. Chan Sung Jung

I’m going to do what I always do in these situations: Pick Frankie Edgar.

Sure, that didn’t work out so well for last time, and some might argue, he wasn’t even close to beating Max Holloway. And that’s fair to say if you’re using things like “facts” and “reality.”

But I genuinely think he has a chance to beat Chan Sung Jung. If anything, Jung is the kind of opponent that Edgar has built his legend on. Jung is bigger and stronger, he hits harder, and “The Answer” will be a half-step away from calamity for pretty much every second of the fight. Even Edgar’s legendary chin won’t be able to withstand a few concentrated shots from “The Korean Zombie.”

So this will be a classic Edgar fight, where he plays the matador to an incredibly terrifying Korean bull, while chipping away at Jung’s hardy exterior and mixing in takedowns to slow his rampage. Jung is at his best when going toe-to-toe with fighters who will engage him in prolonged exchanges and that’s not the plan Edgar will bring to this matchup. He sticks and moves for five rounds and picks up the win.

Pick: Edgar

Volkan Oezdemir vs. Aleksandar Rakic

This is going to be a light heavyweight chess match, so settle in because while it may end in a big finish it could take some time to get there.

Volkan Oezdemir will probably be the more aggressive of the two, but even he’ll have have to think twice about walking down the versatile Aleksandar Rakic. In his four UFC appearances, Rakic has shown he’s more than ready to be a main event player as he can fight a conservative, counter-based style, but also has a strong killer instinct.

I’d give the edge in kickboxing to Oezdemir while favoring Rakic’s wrestling should this matchup veer towards grappling. The clinches will provide plenty of intrigue with Rakic looking for takedowns and Oezdemir looking to land one of those stunning in-close KO punches that he’s capable of.

It’s a close call and either man will be in good position for a title shot with a win, but I’ll go with Rakic to finish.

Pick: Rakic

Doo Ho Choi vs. Charles Jourdain

Upset special!

Charles Jourdain gets a second chance to make a first impression as he makes his UFC featherweight debut after dropping a decision to Des Green in a 155-pound bout in May. The size difference was noticeable and back at his ideal weight class, Jourdain will be able to better show the striking game that landed him a spot in the Octagon in the first place.

There’s also the element of ring rust, which could affect Doo Ho Choi as he returns from a layoff of over 700 days. It’s also entirely possible that the time off does “The Korean Superboy” a lot of good after two career-shortening losses to Jeremy Stephens and Cub Swanson, so don’t be surprised if he looks rejuvenated on Saturday. And if that’s the case, expect him to get back to his free-swinging, highlight-hunting ways early on.

Jourdain will be right there to meet him and while that may sound like a mistake, he has the kind of creativity to match Choi on the feet. He’s unlikely to initiate a takedown, but if it goes to the ground, Jourdain can threaten with submissions too.

After a competitive three rounds, Jourdain walks out with the decision.

Pick: Jourdain

Da Un Jung vs. Mike Rodriguez

Mike Rodriguez throws bombs and he brings an impressive reach of almost 83 inches to this matchup. Da Un Jung isn’t exactly a little fella himself, though he’s more inclined to pick up his knockouts on the ground rather than on the feet.

It’s not a striker vs. grappler matchup because Jung enjoys standing and trading, he just may want to make judicious use of his wrestling to keep Rodriguez from teeing off on him. Jung showed questionable defensive skills in his UFC debut and Rodriguez isn’t going to let him get away with making mistakes.

If this goes to the third round, Rodriguez has some questions to answer about his cardio as opposed to Jung who has three third-round finishes in his career. However, I’m picking Rodriguez to end this one in the first.

Pick: Rodriguez

Jun Yong Park vs. Marc-Andre Barriault

This is Marc-Andre Barriault’s last chance to impress the UFC brass. Will the former TKO champ-champ be able to turn desperation into motivation?

Barriault debuted earlier this year with the hope that he could be the next great fighter to come out of Montreal, but he’s looked either sloppy or unable to pull the trigger so far. “Power Bar” was known for his KO power in Canada and it just hasn’t translated to his UFC career yet. He can’t hold back against Jun Yong Park, because Park certainly won’t.

Park is going to stand in the pocket and throw volume, pushing the pace and forcing Barriault to match him. Based on what we’ve seen so far, I don’t know if Barriault is up to the task. If Barriault decides to wrestle, he’ll have to be smart not to waste energy because Park is difficult to hold down. Don’t let the nickname fool you, “The Iron Turtle” knows how to get up off his back.

Fighting in front of a home crowd should give Park that extra boost to take Barriault past the point where he can keep up and Park either wins on the scorecards or finishes in the third.

Pick: Park

Kyung Ho Kang vs. Liu Pingyuan

Liu Pinguyan has shown a lot of potential as far as rounding out his game, though he’s still learning to mix things up. He has good movement, but it’s not always purposeful. Against a UFC veteran like Kang, he’ll have to be at his sharpest to pull off the upset.

The good news is that Liu just so happens to train at Team Alpha Male, a squad that happens to know a thing or two about wrestling. So he can defend well against the takedowns and deadly submission game of “Mr. Perfect.” That means much of this bout will be contested on the feet, where Kang has always been solid, if unspectacular. Liu absolutely has the potential to outwork him in this one.

As long as he can avoid the takedowns, I like Liu to surprise a lot of people here.

Pick: Liu


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Omar Morales def. Dong Hyun Ma

Alexandre Pantoja def. Matt Schnell

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Amanda Lemos def. Miranda Granger

Ryan Benoit def. Heili Alateng

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