It’s been nearly nine years since “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung last fought for a UFC title, but he’s in a much different place now than he was facing Jose Aldo back in 2013.
At that time, Jung was just three fights into his UFC career with wins over Dustin Poirier, Mark Hominick and Leonard Garcia but he was still very young in the sport, which resulted in a lot of anxiety as he prepared to face one of the nastiest finishers in featherweight history.
“When I prepared for my first title fight, I was very nervous,” Jung said at UFC 273 media day. “Everything was very new for me and I was very young. At that age, challenging for a world championship title was obviously very unnerving for me. I was very nervous.
“But now I feel I’ve become older, I’m less nervous and I’m more experienced. I’m more prepared for the fight than when I was preparing for the Aldo fight.”
Of course, Jung also had to travel to Brazil for the fight against Aldo, which added even more pressure, especially after he encountered the fans in the days leading up to the event.
“When I was in Brazil for the Aldo fight, a lot of the Brazilians out there, whenever they came across me, they were like ‘you’re going to lose, you’re probably going to die in the octagon’ so it was kind of threatening for me,” Jung said. “I was nervous that happened.
“Because of that experience right now, I don’t care whoever walks up to me and says how the results are going to be. I don’t really care. I’m prepared for the fight.”
Jung ultimately fell to Aldo by fourth-round TKO after he suffered a dislocated shoulder during a striking exchange with the legendary Brazilian.
Now in his second attempt at becoming UFC champion, “The Korean Zombie” is facing a different kind of challenge from Volkanovski, who he holds in high esteem even if Jung still saw Aldo as the bigger threat.
“I was most scared of Jose Aldo because I was really scared of getting knocked out by Jose Aldo,” Jung said. “So in that sense, Jose Aldo is the top rank. Volkanovski, on the other hand, is a very smart fighter.
“I don’t really see myself getting knocked out by Volkanovski so I think in terms of fight IQ and how intelligent he fights, Volkanovski is the best fighter that I’ve ever experienced.”
Jung comes into the UFC 273 main event with a 3-1 resume in his past four fights including knockouts over ex-UFC champion Frankie Edgar and Renato Moicano.
As impressive as his resume has been lately, Jung will have to find a way to stop Volkanovski’s momentum after he’s claimed 20 consecutive wins in a row including a pair of victories over Max Holloway.
Volkanovski’s run has been highlighted by a very well-rounded arsenal where he doesn’t necessarily do any one thing exceptionally well but he’s still been better than all of his opponents in every facet of the fight.
“I’ve been fighting with fighters that were exceptionally strong on one sort of way like grappling or striking,” Jung explained. “But Volkanovski is well balanced out compared to these fighters that I met in the past but I think I can finish Volkanovski in all these areas. I’m better than Volkanovski in all the areas of MMA.”
Because he had to wait so long to earn another UFC title shot, Jung isn’t lost on the magnitude of this moment, especially after celebrating his 35th birthday just recently.
Time is the one opponent no fighter has ever defeated and “The Korean Zombie” is no different.
“It’s definitely not my last fight but I think it’s going to be my last title fight,” Jung said. “Because I’ve been injured a lot, I was hurt a lot in the past. I’ve seen fighters who had issues with these injuries, long lasting issues and I don’t want that to happen to me.
“I’m going to fight more after this regardless of the result but in terms of title fights, I think it’s my last one.”