In the lead up to his headlining bout at UFC on Fuel 3, Chan Sung Jung was looked at as a quick win to put Dustin Poirier in line for the title shot. As we all saw tuesday, that was not the case. People were abuzz with talk of his progression as a fighter from his first fight with Leonard Garcia to this fight. People claimed his skillset had improved by leaps and bounds, when in fact, it had not.
Jung was already set skillwise way back when at the time of his first fight with Leonard Garcia. What has changed was his composure. That is really what is impressive about his victory over Poirier, and his progression overall. He has become the type of fighter that knows how to use the tools he has, and he's come a long way in that regard.
Based on previous fights of his, people should have known that he'd have the ability to do well on the ground. Because he doesn't appear to have the imposing build of a wrestler, I believe some people write him off as not having the ability to get it there. We've seen before that he has some pretty good shots, but I've always believed that his clinch takedowns are pretty underrated.
His composure on the ground is also something to note for fighters everywhere. He's offensive when he needs to be, and solid defensively. He rarely allows himself to lose position, but he's also very active. His submission game is his greatest tool, and people should realize that it's been his bread and butter since early on.
Another big point to note is that as of late, he's been very smart capitalizing on mistakes his opponents make. He took advantage of Leonard Garcia's sloppy transitioning in their second fight to lock up the first twister used in the UFC. Against Mark Hominick, he took advantage of Mark's looping sucker punch right after they touched gloves and made him pay early. Against Poirier, a featherweight noted for his strength, he used momentum to make Dustin's strength work against him. When he hurt Poirier standing, he turned his desperation shot into a beautiful roll right into mount. After another desperate takedown attempt, Jung latched on the choke that won him the fight.
His striking has never looked as good as it did against Poirier, at least not for entire fights. Jung has shown before though, that his striking is something to be noted. At points in his first fight with Leonard Garcia, a fight loved for pure heart and not for technique, you can still see some very high level striking shine through for Jung. In his early fights you see some progression, but since his WEC debut, the determining factor in what makes him look better standing in every fight is his composure. He no longer brawls like he did with Garcia. He's become better defensively since Roop. These are not a product of his striking itself becoming better, but because his fight IQ has gone up.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that he hasn't improved skillwise, I'm saying that he's now upped his mental game to a point where he combines the skills he has to show off the amazing talent he has. Fighters that have been lauded for making stupid mistakes should take note of the Korean Zombie, a fighter that has always had it in him and is now proving it.