Five for Fighting: UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. Korean Zombie

On Saturday night, a highly anticipated featherweight scrap goes down between Brian Ortega and “The Korean Zombie,” Chan Sung Jung. This is a very good card from top to bottom, and I’m here to share the five fights that I’m most looking forward to this weekend.

Brian Ortega vs. Chan Sung Jung

The main event has had a strange build-up. What began as a respectful rivalry between Ortega and Korean Zombie turned sour when Jay Park, Korean Rapper and Jung’s translator, was slapped at a UFC event. Brian Ortega (14-1) apologised after the incident and tensions simmered down between him and Chan Sung Jung (16-5).

Any lingering issues that may exist will finally be ironed out when the pair meet in the 145-pound division on Saturday. The last time we saw Ortega was back at UFC 231 when he was beaten by Max Holloway for the featherweight title. Ortega was on the receiving end of some serious damage that night. The doctor stepped in and decided to call a halt to the fight at the end of round four.

What got Ortega to that title shot was a string of impressive victories over the likes of Renato Moicano, Cub Swanson and Frankie Edgar, the latter being his last victory over two years ago. Taking on “The Korean Zombie,” he will have a further taste of elite competition. It didn’t go to plan last time for Ortega, and he will be out to prove the doubters wrong.

For Jung, he gets his first taste of action in the Octagon this year. In 2019, he picked up two quick knockout victories over Renato Moicano and Frankie Edgar. His last loss came by way of some upward elbow wizardry from Yair Rodriguez. Lost in that knockout was the fact that Zombie was up on two out of the three judges’ scorecards before succumbing to that fight-ending blow.

We know from previous bouts that both guys have heart in spades. Neither fighter will want to back down, which will make this encounter a super exciting fight. I’m a little worried about the lack of elite fighters that Ortega has encountered. However, I thought the same about Cody Sandhagen last week.

Chan Sung Jung will want the fight on the feet given Ortega’s BJJ credentials. If “The Korean Zombie” manages to avoid the takedown and Ortega is forced to stand and bang, that would be a fight that would favor the Korean over his American counterpart. Ortega will need to show much better striking than he did in his last fight, or it could be bad news for the Gracie-trained back belt.

Quick Pick: Korean Zombie

Thomas Almeida vs. Jonathan Martinez

Think Homer Simpson looking at a doughnut, tongue hanging out, drooling. That was me when I found out Thomas Almeida was fighting on this card. If you are relatively new to the sport, it would be well worth your time going back to watch some of his fights. Thomas Almeida equals violence, whether he is dishing it out or on the receiving end.

Almeida (22-3) broke onto the scene when he knocked out Yves Jabouin in the early stages of his UFC career. His vicious Muay Thai style has seen him pick up wins over Brad Pickett, Anthony Birchak and Albert Morales. Against the bantamweight division’s upper-echelon fighters is where problems arose for the Brazilian. Almeida is 1-3 in his last four fights, losing to Rob Font, Jimmie Rivera and Cody Garbrandt.

Jonathan Martinez (12-3) knows all too well about Almeida, he will be looking to steal some of Almeida’s shine on Saturday night. Martinez is not afraid to let loose with his striking and it the Americans fighting style matched with the style of Almeida is what will make this fight a real banger. Martinez dismantled Frankie Saenz with a flying knee in his last fight. He will face his toughest test to date when he takes on Almeida in the 135 pound division.

Quick Pick: Thomas Almeida

Jessica Andrade vs Katlyn Chookagian

Both women find themselves in the co-main event slot after the cancellation of the Cyril Gane/Ante Delija fight. Jessica Andrade (20-8) will move up a weight class to the flyweight division for this fight, and the former 115 pounds champion can skip the queue of flyweight contenders with a win over number-two ranked Katlyn Chookagian(14-3).

Chookagian faced off against the Shevchenko sisters in her most recent bouts. She lost her title shot to 125-pounds champion Valentina Shevchenko. The flyweight then went to battle with Valentina’s older sister Antonina, a fight that Chookagian won by decision.

Andrade is looking to return to form after losing her title to Weili Zhang, followed by a razor-close decision to Rose Namajunas at UFC 237. Those two defeats have prompted the Brazilian to jump up in weight, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she looks in the flyweight division.

Chookagain has failed against championship level opponents in the past, but this is another opportunity to cement her status at the top of the rankings. The American is primarily a striker who likes to fight on the outside, and that approach will be key to her success against Andrade.

Andrade carries big power but her strongest trait is her grappling. For the Brazilian to be victorious in this fight, she will need to put Chookagian on her back. The size and reach advantages favour Chookagian, but that will have little bearing on the fight if Andrade manages to implement her wrestling. This is a nice clash of styles, and a victory for the former strawweight champion could see her provide a new challenge for Shevchenko in what would be an intriguing flyweight title fight if it was to happen.

Quick Pick: Jessica Andrade

Modestas Bukauskas vs. Jimmy Crute

Two light heavyweight prospects look to find their feet in the division when they go toe to toe on Saturday night. Bukauskas (11-1) had an impressive debut performance in the 205 pound division during the first visit of the UFC to Fight Island, where the UK-based Lithuanian dominated Andreas Michailidis.

The Greek fighter was on the wrong end of some brutal ‘hell-bows’ from Bukauskas and was unable to get himself to the stool at the end of round one. The ref gave every chance to Michailidis but ultimately it was Bukauskas who was the person that got hands raised on the night.

Bukauskas had had some training experience with pound-for-pound number one Jon Jones in the past, which I’m sure was a beneficial experience. He carved his path to the UFC through major European promotion Cage Warriors.

Bukauskas’ spell in Graham Boylan’s promotion saw him go 5-1 and pick up the promotions 205 pounds title. He’ll want to further impress in his second outing and is handed a worthy test in fighting Jimmy Crute.

Crute (11-2), who first appeared in Dana White’s Contender Series, won himself a contract by knocking out Chris Birchler early in round one. He has gone 3-1 in the UFC since then, picking up wins over Paul Craig and Sam Alvey. A nice kimura saw Crute pick up a win against Michal Oleksiejczuk in his last bout.

With new champion Jan Blachowicz breathing a new lease of life into the light heavyweight division, this is the perfect opportunity for fresh blood to make a statement at 205lbs. That will certainly be on the minds of both competitors in what should be a very exciting battle.

Quick Pick: Modestas Bukauskas

Mateusz Gamrot vs. Guram Kutateladze

Mateusz Gamrot finally makes his UFC debut after spending years dominating the European circuit with leading European promotion KSW. Gamrot (17-0) will step into the famed Octagon as an undefeated fighter. His recent trilogy with former UFC and Next Generation standout Norman Parke set him up for a dominant win over veteran Marian Ziółkowski, which earned Gamrot his golden ticket to the UFC. 

The Polish fighter brings a vastly superior grappling game into this fight, an area where Gamrot garners most of his confidence. In recent bouts, we have seen big improvements in his striking department and a steady progression in “Gamer” Gamrot’s overall game. 

His opponent Guram Kutateladze (11-2) looks to keep the good form of Georgian fighters alive when he makes his UFC debut in the 155 pound division. He has mainly fought on the European scene and has impressive victories over Erick da Silva, Guilherme Cadena, and a knockout win over Felipe Silva last time out. 

The Georgian has had 11 professional wins and 7 of those have come by way of knockout. He is coming into this fight on an 8-fight win streak and highly confident he can take some of his opponents hype coming into this fight. Kutateladze provides a stern test for Gamrot and both guys will be keen to get their UFC careers off to a good start. 

Quick Pick: Mateusz Gamrot

Ian O'Neill is a Kilkenny man living in Canada. You can catch him on Twitter most of the time talking all things MMA. Follow me on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma.