When Chan Sung Jung first showed up on the U.S. fight scene more than nine years ago, he made an instant impact.
On Saturday, his record of making an impact in a big way in almost in every fight continued with a 58-second knockout win over Renato Moicano in the main event of a Fight Night show in Greenville, S.C.
Blessed with a memorable nickname, “The Korean Zombie,” Jung debuted in Sacramento, Calif., on April 24, 2010. He was in the final televised prelim prior to the first, and only WEC pay-per-view show. On that night he and Leonard Garcia had a fight that should go into the Hall of Fame, as it was among the wildest MMA fights ever on U.S. television, or anywhere.
At the time, the WEC brand was taking a big step in moving to pay-per-view. Its top star, Urijah Faber, had turned into a legitimate television ratings draw, and Faber’s opponent, featherweight champion Jose Aldo, at the time was one of the best fighters on the planet. The hope was maybe they could do 60,000 to 80,000 buys on pay-per-view.
After Zombie vs. Garcia, a fight that was compared instantly to the sport’s all-time classic brawl, the Don Frye vs. Yoshihiro Takayama fight, the pay-per-view sold multiple times its expectations. Some people, probably many, were watching Garcia vs. Zombie because MMA was not a weekly thing on television, and figured if this was what the WEC product was about, it was probably an event worth paying to see.
The success of that show actually led to shutting down WEC and moving Aldo, Zombie, Faber and the rest of the featherweight and bantamweight divisions into UFC, where it eventually spawned Conor McGregor, the biggest drawing personality in history.
Jung lived up to his nickname in that fight, constantly moving forward like a zombie, no matter how many times Garcia landed cleanly on him. Garcia got the very controversial decision that night, but nobody thought Jung lost and “The Korean Zombie”, off a loss in his debut, was an immediate star. The idea that Zombie could take any shot, the theme of the Garcia fight, ended quickly when he was knocked out by George Roop in his second fight.
But the nickname, and the consistent great fights continued to be produced.
Since that time he’s had two more of the best fights in UFC history, a 2012 win over Dustin Poirier and a 2018 loss to Yair Rodriguez in which he was one second away from victory. That may have been the greatest finish in UFC history, a knockout out of nowhere from an upward elbow strike at 4:59 of the fifth round where Jung was the victim.
Jung also had one of the quickest knockouts ever. He stopped former title contender Mark Hominick in seven seconds. He lost a title fight with Aldo. There was one of the great submission wins ever, a twister finish in the rematch with Garcia. But between injuries and a three-year-layoff, largely due to military service in his native South Korea, his record of newsworthy fights is more notable because he hasn’t fought often.
Saturday’s win was Jung’s ninth fight in that nine plus year tenure with WEC and his move to UFC in 2011.
The Moicano win leaves him in his best position since the Aldo title loss and subsequent hiatus from fighting.
Let’s look at how fortunes changed for five stars of Saturday’s show.
CHAN SUNG JUNG - Jung (16-5) could go in one of two directions. One is Jeremy Stephens (28-16) to go for another classic fight reminiscent of the wars with Garcia, Poirier (who he defeated) and Rodriguez. The other is if he can get a bout with Alexander Volkanovski (20-1). Jung has enough drawing power to bring Volkanovski to a main event position. And a Volkanovski win would put him in line for a shot at the championship, with either Max Holloway or Frankie Edgar.
RENATO MOICANO - Moicano (13-3-1) has some rebuilding to do. Former title contender Ricardo Lamas (19-8) is in a similar position. Shane Burgos (12-1), on the flip side, is a guy on the way up after a win over Cub Swanson and Moicano would be a good opponent to test what level he’s at.
ANDREA LEE - Lee (11-2) scored a decision over No. 11 ranked Montana De La Rosa (10-5). With seven wins in a row, Lee is clearly someone to watch in the women’s flyweight division. She should next face Katlyn Chookagian (12-2) in a fight that could determine a title challenger for the winner of the upcoming flyweight title match between Valentina Shevchenko and Liz Carmouche.
MONTANA DE LA ROSA - Coming back from her loss, a good next opponent would be JJ Aldrich (7-3).