Jose Aldo was originally scheduled to defend his UFC featherweight title against Anthony Pettis at UFC 163. However, an injury forced Pettis off the card, and in his place, the UFC inserted Chan Sung Jung, a fighter who had not competed since he defeated Dustin Poirier in a Fight of the Night/Submission of the Night-winning performance in May 2012.
Many were surprised the UFC went in that direction. After all, conventional wisdom would have had the No. 2-ranked Ricardo Lamas stepping into Pettis’ vacated spot. Lamas was already booked on the August 3 card. In fact, he was booked as Jung’s opponent. Lamas had also won two fights since Jung had last stepped into the Octagon and was riding a four-fight winning streak since dropping to featherweight.
Among those surprised by the choice of Jung, was Jung himself, "At first I was really in disbelief about it, so until Dana White actually announced that I was going to be in the fight, I didn't really believe that it was true. To be honest with you, I thought that Lamas would have been the first choice as well, but I'm happy to have been chosen,” Jung said through an interpreter during a media call.
Jung feels the reasoning behind his nickname, “The Korean Zombie” may have had something to do with the UFC’s choice. Jung is known for his ability to take strike after strike and keep moving forward. “I think that what may have been the difference was the stylistic matchup. This is guaranteed to be an exciting fight, and that's probably one of the big reasons why they chose me over Lamas.”
Some fighters may have balked at stepping right into a title fight after more than a year on the sidelines, but Jung is not one of those fighters. He’s looking at the long time between trips into the Octagon as a positive, “They gave me a lot of time to prepare mentally and physically, to get my injuries all healed up. I think the time off actually helped benefit me,” Jung said.
As for how the title shot is being looked at in his homeland of South Korea, Jung said, “In MMA circles, it's probably one of the biggest things that has happened in Korean MMA. Overall, there has been quite a response from the mass media as well, and the general public seems very interested, not only in the fight, but getting more interested in MMA as well.”
Jung will meet Aldo on August 3 at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
*All quotes obtained firsthand.