For the second straight weekend, the UFC takes center stage on a Saturday night—this time on pay-per-view with UFC 163. The event is headlined by featherweight champion Jose Aldo defending against Chan Sung Jung, The Korean Zombie, in Aldo's homeland of Brazil.
Both fighters have proven to be among the best at featherweight, though Aldo has undeniably been several notches above his challenger over the course of his career. He's 22-1, and his only loss came nearly eight years ago as a lightweight.
Jung has been a steady addition to the 145-pound class as someone who has improved with more time in the cage and sports a 3-0 mark in the UFC and a 13-3 record overall.
It's an interesting clash of styles in one sense, as Aldo likes to batter opponents with whipping leg kicks and follow up with crisp, simple boxing combinations to score points and inflict damage. For his part, Jung is often happy to eat kicks and punches in an effort to close distance and return fire himself.
Who ya got?
While that definitely doesn't favor the challenger given Aldo's ruthlessness, it certainly makes the keys to victory for each man more muddied.
Simply put, Aldo should do what Aldo does. Pounding away with leg kicks will slow the Zombie, especially considering Aldo kicks like no one else in the sport. If he follows up with punches and the occasional flashy knee or elbow, it won't be long before the effects add up and his hand is raised.
For Jung, however, it's totally different. Everyone in the world is expecting him to be the guy he's been to this point in his career: a plodding attacker who never stops coming forward no matter what. If he wants to leave Brazil with the belt, he should throw a changeup and look be very selective in his attacks.
Aldo undoubtedly expects to have an easy night of target practice against a guy so obviously tailor-made to make him look good. If, instead of coming forward and chasing the champion, Jung works on checking leg kicks and trying to pick his spots on the outside, he may wear the notoriously underconditioned Aldo down enough to go full Zombie mode later in the fight and get the win.
Jung is amazing at absorbing punishment. It's almost like he enjoys it. However, if he takes a risk-averse approach early when Aldo is coming with maximum heat, he'll still be around later to wade through shots, as he always does, and maybe land some heavy leather of his own.
This is not an easy fight for Chan Sung Jung. It isn't for anyone at 145 pounds, but for Jung it's particularly tough. Aldo basically just has to be himself and the win will present itself eventually, be it after a minute or after 25.
Jung essentially has to do everything the opposite of what his training and instincts have developed over the course of his 16-fight career; otherwise, he's little more than a head in the crosshairs to the champion's Rick Grimes.
As those who enjoy zombie culture know, there are two rules that are pretty much steadfast: They don't learn quick, and they never win.
Both of those rules should hold true Saturday night in Brazil.