Before the "Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung showed fans once again that he's the new Diego Sanchez, the UFC's third show on FUEL TV was floundering. Filled mostly with unfamiliar names and tepid action, the show seemed like a complete bust, especially after former The Ultimate Fighter winner Amir Sadollah ground the action to a halt with an abysmal co-main event.
Funny how a thrilling final tilt can change all of that in the blink of an eye.
Jung showed diverse technique, a complete inability to protect himself from damage, and the mental fortitude to not give a damn about what happens to his body— all the hallmarks of a great action fighter.
Jung wasn't the only one to wow the crowd. There were entertaining moments throughout. Here are five of the best.
Jeff Hougland was overmatched and outclassed. But you can't say he wasn't game. He took everything Yves Jabouin could dish out, asking for seconds and then thirds in a fight anyone with an ounce of compassion prayed could just come to a screeching halt.
The announce crew of Jon Anik and Kenny Florian raved about Yves and his spinning kicks. The postfight analysts on Fuel were just as effusive.
“Yves Jabouin went in there and got busy today," Rashad Evans said. "He did not play around for one second. He came in there and really showed that 11-year experience and that great kickboxing world championship amateur level.”
Chael P. Sonnen agreed. “This fight could have and should have been stopped about two or three different times. The Korean Zombie is going to get credit for fight of the night, only because he was main event. Jabouin has to be discussed, because he showed everything, he fought outstanding and he had constant non-stop action.”
Sometimes two completely ordinary fighters are so evenly matched that they can't help but have a great, spirited, fun-filled fight. That's what happened Tuesday night when Igor Pokrajac took on Fabio Maldonado.
Maldonado did great work to the body. Pokrajac cracked him on the regular. I had it for Maldonado. The judges disagreed and called Pokrajac's name.
Either way, it was a fight worth bothering friends on G-chat or AIM about. And that, friends, is high praise indeed.
Say what you will about Tom Lawlor—the man goes to great lengths to entertain us. From his tribute to Genki Sudo at the weigh-in, to his knockout of Jason MacDonald, to his bizarro interview with Ariel Helwani on Fuel—Lawlor was firing on all cylinders.
“I feel absolutely amazing," he told Helwani. "It feels like I was out there in the sun, for hours, days, with it beating down on me, in the ocean. I am on a raft—there is nothing around me and all I can think about is knocking out Jason McDonald. I don’t really even know what I am talking about right now because I am so happy.”
No one was quite sure how "Cowboy" Donald Cerrone would respond to his complete dismantling at the hands of Nate Diaz. Cerrone seems fueled by a combination of Jim Beam, energy drinks and swagger. Would busted confidence ruin him as a fighter?
The short answer—no. He looked better than ever against Jeremy Stephens, outworking, out-thinking and taunting him for three rounds. The take-away moment for me? Cerrone's casual feints toward Stephens who looked completely shell-shocked.
“Cowboy seemed to have gotten so much better and he is creative," former training partner Rashad Evans told the audience on Fuel. "I watched Cowboy for a long time. I trained with him for a long time. I have never seen him as creative as he was tonight. It seemed like he was just letting it go and enjoying himself.”
I'm not afraid to admit it. I thought Chan Sung Jung was in over his head with Dustin Poirier. And there were times last night that seemed true. When Poirier worked off a robotic one-two combination, pistoning out a jab and following with a straight left, he seemed to have Jung's number.
But the Zombie wasn't content to let it be a pretty, technical fight. He charged through Poirier's punches and forced him to mix it up. Most startling to me were some takedowns that made Jung look like a 145-pound Alexander Karelin.
By the time he choked Poirier out in the fourth round, people were starting to discuss how he would do against champ Jose Aldo. You're doing your job, and then some, when you jump from underdog to title contender on the strength of a single fight.