Chan Sung Jung is developing a reputation for extraordinary feats. "The Korean Zombie" has thoroughly wowed the North American audience in three of his four stateside performances.
While the "Fight of the Decade" offering against Leonard Garcia in his North American debut and the Octagon's first submission by Twister stand out as stylish and unique accomplishments, flattening Mark Hominick in just seven seconds at UFC 140 is by far the most beneficial to his career. Hominick, a top-ten featherweight who had just given untouchable monarch Jose Aldo his best run yet, was Jung's stiffest test to date and also drastically favored to win. Known as a methodical technician, the Canadian came out uncharacteristically aggressive and was punished for the lapse with a fight-ending counter punch.
"Regardless of what people were saying about the fight, I was confident going into it. You always feel less pressure as the underdog, so that makes it easier sometimes," Jung said of the upset. "I doubt that Mark underestimated me. I think he was probably more caught up in the moment. I'm sure that it was a very emotional fight for him, for obvious reasons." (Jung's closing reference alludes to the unfortunate passing of Homick's longtime coach and mentor, Shawn Tompkins.)
Having previously cemented himself as a highly entertaining and creative fighter, Jung has now added legitimate prestige to his resumé and vaulted into the top-contender conversation. Talk of getting crack at Aldo's belt surfaced after UFC 140 but, while he welcomes the challenge, Jung isn't anticipating an immediate title shot.
"I doubt that they'll make that match up right now, but if they do I think I'd be ready for it," Jung mused. "I'm guessing that the matchmakers will give me at least one fight and if I win that then maybe I'll be in line for a title shot, but that's up to the UFC to decide. But, whenever I get the shot, I'll be ready."
The Korean talent now joins Chad Mendes and Hatsu Hioki as the front-running threats to Jose Aldo's legacy, and Jung shared his thoughts on how he matches up with the champ and top contenders. "They're all tough fighters. There are no easy match ups in the UFC. They all pose their own unique challenges and strong points, so I wouldn't really call any of them better or worse match ups."
Considering his ascension in the ranks in such a short time, the fact that the burgeoning featherweight is just twenty-four years old holds much promise for the future. I asked Jung what aspect he felt he'd improved the most, what areas he was still working on and whether another trip to Team Alpha Male to train with Urijah Faber was on the horizon.
"I think I've improved my game overall and I keep trying to improve as an all around fighter. This is mixed martial arts, so it's important to work on all facets of your game, whether it's striking, wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, whatever. I'm always trying to get better at everything," he said. "I definitely want to get back to train with Team Alpha Male again, but at this point I don't know when that will be. The training at Korean Top Team is top notch, so I know I'm getting great training here, but yes, when the time and situation permit I would like to go back and train some more with Urijah and the guys."
It's rare for a fighter to have one unbelievable, amazing or memorable performance in the UFC and, barring his knockout loss to George Roop, "The Korean Zombie" has been a consistent crowd pleaser. To what does Chan Sung Jung attribute his extraordinary success?
"To be honest with you, I don't really know why. I think maybe I'm just lucky," he offered with a laugh. "I'm certainly thankful for the attention and the good fortune I've had in my fights, though. I want to thank everyone for their support and I hope to be the champ in 2012!"