In the opening bout of the Spike TV UFC Fight Night 24 broadcast, "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung meets Leonard Garcia in a rematch of their epic WEC 48 war. When the two men met for the first time in April of 2010, Garcia won by a controversial split decision. Garcia was originally set to face Nam Phan in a rematch but Phan was forced out of the bout with an injury, setting up an even more highly anticipated rematch.
The first meeting between Jung and Garcia was a wild brawl that saw both men land heavy power shots in an almost non-stop firefight. Recently speaking to MMA Fighting, Garcia spoke about wanting to be a more evolved fighter:
"Not being safe, not being careful, going out there and getting after it, all that gets you fans and stuff. It can also get you cut from the UFC. I weigh these things out in my head all the time and then I go out there and when it's time to fight, I just get in a certain mindframe and it's time to go. I kind of don't have a choice. Once a guy hits me, the other Leonard comes out. I just need to learn to control that a little bit more."
Given that Leonard has not won a clear decision since his 2008 KO of Jens Pulver, going 3-3-1 with three controversial split decision wins during that period, it would make sense for him to fight with more strategy. But 22 fights into his career, it seems unrealistic to assume that Garcia will flip the switch and turn from wild swinging brawler into a patient tactician.
Jung shares the same penchant for brawling but having gone 1-3 in his last four bouts, he desperately needs a victory in this rematch. This will be his UFC debut and the first time stepping into the cage since being knocked out by a George Roop head kick. The Roop KO was the first time the iron jaw of Jung had been dented, but a clean kick to the head will knock most men out.
It's hard for me to see the rematch going down any differently from the first bout. Both men will likely stand in the pocket throwing punches, Garcia throwing wild punches that hit mostly air while Garcia throws less looping, more accurate shots. The stats from the first fight show the accuracy difference as Jung landed 89 strikes at a 47% accuracy rate to 64 landed shots for Garcia at 34% accuracy.
This bout is the obvious early favorite for Fight of the Night, but it will be hard for the fight t live up to the lofty expectations many fans have.