The UFC is in Houston for Superbowl weekend and Chan Sung Jung aka “The Korean Zombie” makes his long awaited return against Dennis Bermudez in the main event. Rising strawweight contender Alexa Grasso takes on Felice Herrig in the co-main event and the rest of the card has plenty of fun fights too. Let’s take a look.
The last time we saw Chan Sung Jung was August 2013 when fought Jose Aldo and demonstrated a more restrained game than usual. He dislocated his shoulder throwing a punch and was finished in the 4th round. He was scheduled to fight a year later but pulled out due to injury and then had to complete his mandatory two year military service in South Korea which put his career on hold. It is impossible to tell how the break has affected Jung, it may have allowed him to recover and heal any lingering injuries he may have had or his game could have stagnated and we could see him suffer from a bad case of ring rust.
The Korean Zombie got his name due to his incredibly aggressive fighting style and his durability, his ability and his willingness to stand in the pocket and trade blows made him a fan favourite but he is more than just a brawler. Jung will jab his way into range and then look to block or slip his opponents return shot before unleashing his own combination. He has good enough skills to lead and to counter and he doesn’t hesitate to throw whatsoever.
Jung has excellent takedown defence, but if it is breached he also has an excellent guard. He is very active from his back hunting for submissions and sweeps. As for his takedown game, he rarely shoots for takedowns but he does get them in the clinch by using trips and throws to get his man to the mat. His grappling is similar to his striking in that it is aggressive, he is constantly looking to advance position, posture up and strike, or lock in a submission. His twister submission against Leonard Garcia and d’arce choke against Dustin Poirier are two of the finest submissions I have seen in the octagon.
Dennis Bermudez rattled off a seven fight winning streak after losing The Ultimate Fighter finale to Diego Brandao but then he fell to Jeremy Stephens and Ricardo Lamas and now must build his way back to contendership. He has already got that process underway with victories over Tatsuya Kawajiri and Rony Jason but a victory over Korean Zombie would put him right back in there and earn him a fight with one of the top contenders in the division.
Bermudez may be able to match Jung in aggression and volume in this fight. He can throw at a really high clip and keep a lot of pressure on his opponent. His striking technique and fundamentals are very good but he could maybe for criticised for being a bit too mechanical or rote in his approach. While Bermudez is not known as a big knockout artist he does put a lot of power in his shots and he certainly packs a punch.
Bermudez mixes in takedowns in his game and he has a good powerful shot and get some back impactful takedowns. He is not a massive submission threat on the ground but he has strong suffocating top control and he can do plenty of damage with ground and pound.
While it is hard to judge Korean Zombie with him having been out of the game for so long, I think this match favours him stylistically. He has the striking nous to counter Bermudez and make him pay when he misses, and he has the grappling chops to dissuade Bermudez from initiating a clinch or attempting too many takedowns. Once he finds his rhythm he can begin to hurt Bermudez in exchanges and force a stoppage. One issue is cardio, Bermudez never gets tired and if he can sustain a high pace here he may be able to make Jung slow down a little and take control of the fight as it progresses. Either way this should be a highly entertaining contest.
In the co-main event Alexa Grasso will battle Felice Herrig at strawweight. Grasso is coming into her second UFC fight, after putting a hellacious beating on Heather Jo Clark in her debut. Grasso is still only 23 and had been making waves for a few years in Invicta before being signed by the UFC. In February 2015 she took on Mizuki Inoue (who was fresh off a split decision defeat to future strawweight challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz) and the two put on an exciting and technical fight with Grasso winning close, but still clear, decision. She has been pegged as a future strawweight champion since that day.
Unfortunately injuries delayed her a little, she would surely have fought for Invicta gold by now had she not had to wait over a year for her next outing. It was worth the wait though, as she dismantled Jodie Esquibel in the Invicta 18 main event. Grasso has an incredibly clean and technical kickboxing game, her hands are especially sharp. There is nothing too fancy about how she goes about her business, her 1–2 is the staple of her game but everything is done with such precision that she is a joy to watch in full flow.
Herrig is a good kickboxer but due to Grasso’s boxing pedigree she will likely be all the way in or all the way out in this feet. That means probing and poking with kicks on the outside to maintain distance and then skip boxing range and try to initiate a clinch. That is a definite route to victory for Herrig, she has the experience advantage here and Grasso is guilty of being unaware of where she is in the cage and getting backed up to the fence needlessly. Herrig will have to hope that Grasso has not ironed that issue out of her game and she will need to expose it.
While Herrig is a solid well rounded fighter, Grasso is an incredible prospect and even though this is a good test for her, it is one she should pass. Herrig may have success early but expect Grasso to take over she finds her range and gets in the groove.
Also on the main card Abel Trujillo will take on James Vick at lightweight. Trujillo is riding a three fight winning streak since losing to Tony Ferguson while Vick just suffered the first defeat of his career when he was knocked out by Beneil Dariush. Two strikers with opposing styles, Vick the lanky out fighter and Trujillo the gritty brawler, this should be a lot of fun.
We will also be treated to a contest between light heavyweight contender Ovince St. Preux and UFC newcomer Volkan Oezdemir. Oezdemir has a 12-1 record and hails from Switzerland, he will have a tough night ahead of him against St. Preux who is an incredible athlete with monstrous punching power.
Angela Hill makes her return to the UFC after going 4-0 in Invicta and claiming their strawweight championship. She faces Jessica Andrade who has been on a tear since dropping to strawweight and could secure a title shot with an impressive display.
Main Card (3 AM GMT, BT Sport)
Dennis Bermudez vs. Chan Sung Jung – Korean Zombie with a late stoppage after a back and forth fight
Alexa Grasso vs. Felice Herrig – Grasso to take clear but competitive decision
James Vick vs. Abel Trujillo – Trujillo
Ovince Saint Preux vs. Volkan Oezdemir – St. Preux
Anthony Hamilton vs. Marcel Fortuna – Hamilton
Jessica Andrade vs. Angela Hill – Andrade in a close fight
Preliminary Card (1 AM GMT, BT Sport)
Adam Milstead vs. Curtis Blaydes – Blaydes
Chas Skelly vs. Chris Gruetzemacher – Skelly
Ricardo Ramos vs. Michinori Tanaka – Tanaka
Tecia Torres vs. Bec Rawlings – Torres
Fight Pass Prelims (Midnight GMT, UFC Fight Pass)
Alex Morono vs. Niko Price – Price
Daniel Jolly vs. Khalil Rountree – Rountree
Trujillo and Korean Zombie double – 15/4