mma / Columns

Fear The Korean Zombie

February 7, 2017 | Posted by Evan Zivin

Are you guys fans of The Walking Dead?

Remember how, when you first heard about it, it came with all this hype from all these people saying how wild it was? Remember how blown away you were when you first saw it, engaged by the action and humanity on display, demonstrating things you had never seen before on television?

Remember when, after it hit the peak of its excellence, it went off the air for two years to serve required military duty in its home country? That really sucked.

I don’t even know what The Walking Dead is. Is that a TV show? Why do Americans bother telling stories about zombies when other countries do it so much better?

Case in point: Chan Sung Jung, The Korean Zombie.

The man has been little more than a myth the last few years but, back in 2010, the legend was very real, headlining the prelims of the WEC 48 Payperview in a crazy, back and forth slugfest against the MMA judge’s favorite fighter (for some reason…) Leonard Garcia.

The Korean fighter, who made his name competing in Japanese promotions Deep and Sengoku, was little known in this part of the world at the time of his WEC debut and, before that fight, the most entertaining part of the broadcast was seeing Mike Goldberg (never forget…) and Joe Rogan trying their best to promote a Payperview while not being allowed to say the name of the promotion due to contractual reasons.

Yeah, that’s good marketing right there. Losing your voice screaming over “Baba O’Riley” wasn’t going to help them get past that.

After a controversial split decision loss and a rough head kick knockout at the feet of George Roop, which elicited many a hamster wheel to begin turning in the heads of fans who were so proud of themselves for making the same observation regarding a fighter using the nickname “Zombie” getting taken out with a shot to the head that everyone else also made, he entered the UFC, where he immediately won fans over by not just beating Leonard Garcia in a rematch, a feat unto itself, but by doing so with the rarely seen twister submission.

That’s right. It was a twister. And it was glorious. I’m pretty sure Rogan would have taken a bullet for Jung after witnessing that. Or at least shared some of his “supplements.”

Hey, it’s cool. USADA wasn’t around yet.

Jung made a pretty quick yet pretty dominant run in the then-newly created UFC Featherweight division, following up his win over Garcia with a 7 second knockout of former title challenger Mark Hominick and a fourth round submission of top contender (at the time) Dustin Poirier. Jung was actually the first fighter to make the Poirier hype train pump the brakes, something I’m sure Dustin’s appreciative of all these years (and zero title shots) later.

Jung’s thrilling win over Dustin “The Diamond” (not to be confused with Dustin Diamond, whose celebrity boxing career left much to be desired, such as cyanide) propelled TKZ to a title shot against Jose Aldo in Brazil in the main event of UFC 163. It was a fight in which he battled like a warrior but he struggled to keep up with the champ’s pace and lost by TKO in part due to separating his shoulder in the fourth round.

After recovering from the loss, Jung decided that, as all men in South Korea are required to complete two years of military service, that moment would be the right time to enlist.

That was tough news to hear, especially at a point when Aldo was in need of quality opponents and before Conor McGregor was using the championship as a weight belt, but it seemed like a good time to do it. It would allow Jung to heal up and collect himself both physically and mentally after a tough title fight.

Plus, it would allow Jung to come back ready and hungry to fight again, since it sounds as though, due to the injuries he sustained in his MMA career, he spent his time in the military relegated to a desk job.

So, he got to spend 2 years experiencing what we all feel on a regular basis when we have to get up to go to the office.

I know I’d be ready to punch a dude in the face after 2 years of that. I’m honestly ready to do it after 15 minutes of checking my emails.

Also, what does fighting in the South Korean military even look like? Doesn’t it mostly consist of making funny faces at North Korea from the DMZ and spying on Kim Jong Un’s Netflix queue? I mean, is anyone surprised he’s a fan of Narcos?

So, Jung served his time and came back ready to pick up where he left off, which most people weren’t sure would be so simple. I mean, who is able to take three years away from the sport and come back looking sharper than ever and knock off a top 10 ranked opponent?

Well, other than Dominick Cruz?

The Korean Zombie, that’s who. He ate a couple of hard shots in his UFC Fight Night main event against Dennis Bermudez last Saturday but he stayed calm and displayed some extremely good takedown defense and counterstriking, slipping a Bermudez jab to knock him out with an uppercut inside of three minutes.

Wow. I guess he did keep training while away. Also, Octagon jitters must have no effect on the undead.

Seriously, I couldn’t be more thrilled to see The Korean Zombie back, ready to kick ass like he used to.

Will he be able to work his way back to a title shot? At this stage, I see no reason why not. Hell, he could become champion within the next few years. How quickly can a Korean Zombie/Max Holloway fight be booked? Get on it, UFC.

And start selling those Korean Zombie t-shirts again. Those were badass and I’m pretty sure I need a new one. I bought my old one 5 years ago and it doesn’t fit anymore…

…because I’ve been going so hard at the gym. Yes, that’s the wolf ticket…

Evan Zivin has been writing for 411 MMA since May of 2013. Evan loves the sport, and likes to takes a lighthearted look at the world of MMA in his writing…usually.

article topics :

Chan Sung Jung, Evan Zivin