I was a little bummed when UFC president Dana White announced that Anthony "Showtime" Pettis wouldn't be facing UFC featherweight champion, Jose "Scarface" Aldo as planned at UFC 163 at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.
But "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung presents a different set of challenges for Aldo, and the bout could still be entertaining.
While Jung is less dynamic than Pettis, his ability to take shots, recover and continue is part of what makes him dangerous.
They Don't Call Him the Korean Zombie for Nothing
Jung garnered his catchy moniker for his ability to absorb punishment and come-forward style. Don't take that description to mean he is a battering ram with a lack of sophistication to his attack.
He is one of the more well-rounded offensive fighters in the sport. Highlight reels only show so much, but take a look at some of the best moments of Jung's MMA career to get a taste of his versatility.
Pettis would have been a tough fight, but Jung will be no picnic for Scarface.
The World's Best Featherweight Will Aim to Please the Brazilian Crowd
Aldo would be a handful in the Octagon anywhere in the world, but he's especially tough when he's charged by fans from his native Brazil.
In Jan. 2012, Aldo scored a huge KO win over Chad Mendes in the same arena where he'll meet Jung. After Mendes was left unconscious from a precise knee, the champion rushed into the adoring Brazilian crowd.
The win and the aftermath created one of the more memorable scenes in recent MMA history. Aldo will be looking to make a scene again on Saturday night.
Jung has had his moments as a striker. Check out his seven-second KO of Mark Hominick at UFC 140.
But Aldo is possibly the most dynamic striker in the UFC. His array of knees, kicks and punches and his use of the cage are unpredictable and dangerous. His leg kicks are among the best in the sport, often setting the tempo of his bouts.
In addition to his varied techniques, he is the superior athlete as well. Not only is he a great striker, he's hard to hit. Per FightMetric.com, Aldo only absorbs 1.91 strikes per minute.
His quickness on offense and defense could be the difference in this matchup.
Grappling and Submissions
Aldo almost always wants to keep the fight standing. Because of his quickness and excellent takedown defense (92 percent per FightMetric.com), he's usually able to avoid going to the ground.
He'll need to do that against Jung on Saturday.
The Korean Zombie's transitions and arsenal of submission maneuvers are impressive. He can seemingly turn just about any position into a submission opportunity, but he's especially deadly when he has his opponent's back.
If Jung can keep this fight on the ground or counter Aldo's strikes with a takedown-submission combination, he has a chance to pull off the upset.
Are Tempo and Pace Issues for Aldo?
Aldo's bout with Frankie Edgar in February caused some to doubt the Brazilian's conditioning and ability to maintain a frenetic pace. Although Aldo won the fight, Edgar appeared to be the stronger and fresher fighter in the final two rounds.
This could be partially attributed to the fact that Edgar is a machine. However, it is also worth noting—as I'm sure Jung has—that Edgar kept constant pressure on Aldo and wouldn't allow him to take breaks during the fight.
Because Aldo usually sets the pace with his leg kicks and quickness, he's able to conserve energy and push the action when he likes. Against Edgar, he was forced to go all out for most of the bout.
Does Jung have the speed to emulate and improve upon Edgar's strategy? Also, will Jung's two-inch height advantage allow him to reach Aldo more often than the shorter Edgar could?
Carelessness During Exchanges Could Cost Jung
The Korean Zombie can get carried away during close exchanges with his opponents. He can depend on his long reach, strong chin and good punching power a little too much. When he does, this can happen:
This KO loss came courtesy of George Roop at WEC 51 in 2010. It was the last time Jung lost but not the last time he's shown a vulnerability to strikes.
Even in some of his signature wins, he threw wide, winging punches with his head straight up. If there is any featherweight in the world capable of making Jung pay for this tendency, it is Aldo.
Jung must be careful on the inside, or Aldo will punish him for his mistakes.
This is an intriguing bout for many reasons. The styles could create an exciting fight, and it'll be interesting to see what Aldo has done to address what could be considered a weakness.
Likewise, we'll get to see if Jung tries to build on what Edgar accomplished.
Aldo is my pick based on his ability to strike accurately and with flair. His style impresses judges, and his ability to avoid takedowns and strikes bodes well for him.
He'll win a competitive but clear unanimous decision over The Korean Zombie.
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