Brian Ortega makes a long-awaited return to the Octagon on Saturday night, with Chan Sung Jung "The Korean Zombie" hoping to play spoiler to his big moment in the main event of UFC Fight Night 180.
Ortega hasn't fought since December 2018 when Max Holloway handed him his first loss. T-City was scheduled to fight Jung once before but was forced to pull out of the bout in December 2019 due to a knee injury.
The Korean Zombie hasn't been extremely active either. He fought Frankie Edgar as a replacement opponent when Ortega pulled out, picking up a first-round TKO win over The Answer.
It's a clash of top featherweight contenders when they are healthy. The winner will have a strong case to be back in the title picture, with Jung favored to pick up the win.
Here's a look at the entire card with the latest odds and predictions for the night's biggest fights.
Main Card (ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET)
- Brian Ortega (+160) vs. Chan Sung Jung (-200)
- Katlyn Chookagian (+130) vs. Jessica Andrade (-159)
- Jimmy Crute (-335) vs. Modestas Bukauskas (+250)
- Claudio Silva (+130) vs. James Krause (-162)
- Thomas Almeida (-139) vs. Jonathan Martinez (+110)
Preliminary Card (ESPN+ at 4 p.m. ET)
- Mateusz Gamrot (-335) vs. Guram Kutateladze (+245)
- Gillian Robertson (-215) vs. Poliana Botelho (+169)
- Jun Yong Park (-278) vs. John Phillips (+215)
- Jamie Mullarkey (-150) vs. Fares Ziam (+120)
- Gadzhimurad Antigulov (+277) vs. Maxim Grishin (-375)
- Said Nurmagomedov (-435) vs. Mark Striegl (+317)
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
Ortega Ekes out a Decision Against The Korean Zombie
The line on this fight indicates one option being much better than the other. The main event has the second widest odds on the main card in favor of The Korean Zombie.
That appears to be, in part, due to the long layoff and injury for Ortega. But it isn't as though Jung has been busy in Ortega's downtime. At 33 years old, he is four years older than his opponent and hasn't fought in 10 months.
If the layoffs equal out, this is a fascinating matchup on paper. The Korean Zombie has earned his nickname for his legendary toughness and durability while producing some highlight-reel knockouts of his own. But it's easy to forget he isn't too shabby on the ground. He once choked out Dustin Poirier with a D'Arce choke and holds a twister-submission win over Leonard Garcia.
Ortega is the opposite. He is known for his submission game. His T-City moniker comes from his penchant for triangle chokes, and he has a great guillotine as well. However, his stand-up game has gone under the radar. He ultimately lost, but he held his own at times with Holloway and knocked out Frankie Edgar in the fight before that.
The Korean Zombie is always dangerous, but Ortega has only lost one fight. Given that was against Max Holloway he may be getting undervalued in this spot. He has shown vast improvements every time he steps into the cage, which bodes well for him recovering from injury.
T-City could remind people how good he is in the main event.
Prediction: Ortega via decision
Andrade Mauls Chookagian for Decision
After back-to-back losses at strawweight, Jessica Andrade is on the prowl for a win and moving up to the strawweight division.
At just 5'1", you'd think that moving up would be a bad move, but her success as a bantamweight before making the cut down to 115 would say otherwise. The Brazilian was 4-3 fighting in a division 20 pounds higher than what she was capable of getting down to.
That's because Andrade is incredibly strong. With a less severe weight cut, that strength could be optimal at 125 pounds.
Testing that theory is going to be Katlyn Chookagian who also had success as a bantamweight before transitioning to this weight class. The difference is she looks like a natural 135-pounder. At 5'8", she will tower over Andrade and boasts a six-inch reach advantage.
The problem is she hasn't been able to effectively leverage that long frame into good takedown defense. Andrade scores 3.02 takedowns per 15 minutes while Chookagian only defends 50 percent of takedown attempts she sees.
Andrade can be a suffocating power wrestler, and Chookagian has struggled with those who are committed to taking her down. That dynamic between the two will be the driving force of the fight, and it's just hard to envision Chookagian staying upright long enough to utilize her striking advantage.
Prediction: Andrade via decision
Crute Bullies Bukauskas on Way to Submission
Before getting into the details of this fight, this is a peculiar matchmaking decision on the UFC's part. Ostensibly, both Jimmy Crute and Modestas Bukauskas are viable prospects at light heavyweight—a division that is always in need of new blood.
Yet here they are, matched up when they both appear to be in different stages of their development. Crute—whose style is worthy of his "The Brute" nickname—already has a win over a ranked opponent in Paul Craig and three total wins in the UFC.
Conversely, Bukauskas only has one appearance in the UFC. Granted, it was an impressive first-round TKO win in which he elbowed Andreas Michailidis to oblivion. But that doesn't put him on the same footing as Crute.
Rather than give Bukauskas time to develop and prove his grappling game a bit, they are throwing him to a proven finisher on the mat.
With Bukauskas' ability to finish fights and dangerous clinch-striking up against Crute's well-rounded game and submissions, both of these fighters have bright futures in the division. Only one can win, though, and it seems like the Australian is more prepared for this spot right now.
Prediction: Crute via second-round submission