Although the posters may look like more of a movie advertisement than a professional fight, UFC 163 features two of the world’s best finishers in the featherweight division when Jose Aldo takes on the Korean Zombie. Chan Sung Jung has essentially gave up his real name and fully embraced the Korean Zombie moniker.
The Korean Zombie has earned himself a cult following among fans of MMA since his debut in the now defunct WEC. In his first fight against Leonard Garcia, both fighters put on a show that many considered to be the fight of the year. A brutal display of striking, both men landed themselves in the hospital after the conclusion of the bout. Although the Korean Zombie lost that battle, he instantly became a fan favorite.
Although oddsmakers fancy this fight to be a one-sided affair, Jose Aldo has been over a 7-1 favorite all week, the Korean Zombie believes he can score the upset. He bases his beliefs on what he observes as a new conservative style from Aldo that has shown itself more and more since he became the 145 pound champion.
“Jose Aldo is a guy I’ve been watching and have been interested in even before he became champion. He always puts on really exciting fights and is just a dynamic fighter. But it seems like in the past few fights, and as a defending champion, his fighting style has changed a little bit. I don’t know if this is an unavoidable thing when you’re a champion, but it seems like all champions do tend to become more conservative,” the Korean Zombie explained.
Not afraid of being an underdog, the Zombie has been in this position before and proved people wrong. His electrifying style always gives him a chance no matter the competition. As Jung puts it, “I know a lot of people think that I can’t do it. A lot of people are saying that there’s no way. Generally speaking, when people say that I can’t win, I can and I do. Whether it was [Dustin] Poirier, Mark Hominick or whoever, I have a habit of proving people wrong.”
Consider me one of those who doesn’t think he will do it. Jose Aldo has looked dominant since entering the UFC.
Couple the ability of Jose Aldo with a home field advantage, UFC 163 takes place in Brazil, and you have a dangerous recipe for the Korean Zombie. Brazilian fighters by and large have looked dominant when given a home field advantage, more so than any other nation. The crowds are electric and dead set on cheering the home town man to victory. Chants from the crowd are often intimidating to the extent they occasionally border on threatening. A Portuguese chant of “You’re going to die!” is a favorite among those in attendance.
At 12-0 for his career Jose Aldo is the only featherweight champion the UFC has ever known, he defines the division. Many experts believe the division will be his until he decides to leave it, that is not enough for Aldo however. In an interview with Bleacher Report, Jose Aldo explained his career ambitions. “In my career, I keep chasing my goals and my No. 1 goal is to break all the UFC records and to be the best,” the champion said.
“I’m not focusing on any particular record. There’s many records—there’s Anderson’s (Silva) record, that’s a really, really hard record to chase and to break. In my mind, I’ll keep trying to break all the records I can, that’s my goal.”
At just 26 years of age, he has time on his side as he continues to streak towards the record books and ascend the pound for pound rankings.
So how do the fighters match up stylistically?
Striking is a strength of the Korean Zombie, as he has three TKO finishes in his UFC career including a 7 second knockout of Mark Hominick. That is not enough to compete with Jose Aldo however. Aldo has made a career out of highlight reel knockouts and his kicks are second to none. One only has to look at his fight against Urijah Faber to see how powerful his legs are, he scored several takedowns on Faber as a result of a basic leg kick. Faber’s legs were so bruised that he could barely stand by the end of the fight.
Grappling is not exactly a strength for either man. The Korean Zombie has submission abilities that he could use to score an upset should the fight hit the mat, however don’t count on that happening. Jose Aldo has some of the best takedown defense in the UFC and should be able to keep the fight standing. Taking him down is perhaps Jung’s best chance of scoring an upset however.
An X-factor for the Korean Zombie could be cardio. Jose Aldo has shown a tendency to fade in the later rounds of his fights, and if Jung can make it the distance against the champion, he should have a chance to pick apart Jose towards the end of the fight. That being said he has to avoid taking too much punishment from the powerful legs of Aldo in order to get to that point.
A fight that on paper looks like it will result in an explosion of action, Jose Aldo will look to defend his title once again against the Korean Zombie. If he wins, he most likely will defend his title next against Anthony Pettis, who had to withdraw from this contest due to injury. Should he defeat both men, he will essentially have ran through the division and Dana White will struggle to find a quality opponent to throw in front of him at featherweight.
Aldo wants to be the best, and should be able to stymie the Korean Zombie en route to victory at UFC 163.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express