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Chan Sung Jung confident that slumping Doo Ho Choi will bounce back

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Doo Ho Choi
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

While one South Korean featherweight continued his rise at UFC Busan, another saw his stock tumble even further.

The main event of the Dec. 21 show saw Chan Sung Jung take out Frankie Edgar in less than a round, but earlier on the main card “The Korean Superboy” Doo Ho Choi failed to make it out of the second round against Charles Jourdain. It was the third straight loss for the 28-year-old Choi following a 3-0 start to his UFC career and he hasn’t picked up a win since July 2016.

Speaking to MMA Fighting through a translator via e-mail, Jung was optimistic about Choi’s future when asked if he had any advice for his countryman.

“I know how strong Doo Ho Choi is,” Jung said. “Anyone who has seen him spar or has sparred with him will know. As long as he keeps his mind at check, he’ll keep on improving because he is still quite young.”

Like Jung did following a featherweight title fight loss to Jose Aldo back in 2013, Choi will soon begin his two years of mandatory military service in his native South Korea. At the time, Jung viewed the service as an opportunity for him to heal his body and it certainly has not slowed his career as he has ascended to the top of the rankings with three knockouts in his last four fights since coming back in 2017.

He expects the experience to be beneficial to Choi in the long run as well.

“Doo Ho will be undergoing the same [public service] during his time in the military and will be able to train individually like I did,” Jung said. “I think one’s ability to improve and develop depends on how you spend that time.

“Two years isn’t a short time so it’s going to be mentally draining, but in order to become a top-class fighter, this is also a milestone that one needs to overcome.”

Jung is also excited for the prospects of the other fighters on the card who were victorious in their home country, including Da Un Jung, Jun Yong Park, Kyung Ho Kang, and Seung Woo Choi. Overall, it was a strong night for the South Korean contingent.

“Kyung Ho showed us what he’s capable of, and as for the other Korean fighters, I believe they are all gaining experience in a good way,” Jung said. “Being able to win in their home country will definitely help them in the future, especially in their careers.”

As a title contender and arguably the most exciting UFC fighter of the past decade, Jung has made himself the face of South Korean MMA. At the UFC Busan post-fight press conference, he cited former top-10 ranked welterweight Dong Hyun Kim as a major influence and he hopes to have the same impact as “Stun Gun” as his career progresses.

“Dong Hyun Kim is the person who paved way for Korean MMA to spread out to the world, and all the fighters in Korea, including myself, are following his footsteps,” Jung said. “Before Dong Hyun was signed with UFC, no one knew how the business was run and structured.”

“I’ve always aimed to do better than him,” Jung added. “By this, I don’t mean I want to replace him, but I want to surpass him in terms of his career. I remember becoming motivated to fight in the UFC thanks to him.”

As much potential as Jung sees in the South Korean MMA scene, he’s still confident that he’ll be the first from his country to wear UFC gold. After all, what better way to lead this new generation of Korean fighters than by example.

“Yes, since I’m the one that’s closest, I’ll make sure I get there first,” Jung said. “And I will pave the way for my juniors by teaching them how to become a champion, just like Dong Hyun Kim did.”