Chan Sung Jung vs Yair Rodriguez Preview & Prediction
By Jon Prentice
This weekend the UFC will celebrate its 25 year anniversary as they return to Denver, Colorado where it all began back on November 12th 1993. That night fans witnessed Royce Gracie defeat Gerard Gordeau via rear naked choke in the main event to claim his place as the ultimate fighter. This weekend fans will be treated to a main event that virtually guarantees excitement as Chan Sung Jung (18-4) takes on Yair Rodriguez (12-10) in a huge featherweight clash.
The original main event for Denver pitted former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar against the former featherweight title challenger, Jung. However, injury forced Edgar to withdraw, clearing the path for Rodriguez to step in on just a few weeks notice to set up the exciting clash.
Both fighters are coming into this bout off the back of long layoffs. “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung last competed in February of 2017 as he defeated Dennis Bermudez via KO in the first round to record his first win since 2012. That bout was Jung’s return to the UFC after 4 years out which were spent completing compulsory national service in his home country of South Korea.
Prior to the Bermudez fight, Jung had challenged Jose Aldo for the featherweight title in August 2013 at UFC 163. In a bout that Aldo dominated early, Jung was coming back into the fight come round 3 before suffering a shoulder injury that restricted him to the use of one arm and he eventually was stopped in the 4th round.
One of the most exciting featherweights on the UFC roster, Jung holds notable wins over Dustin Poirier, Mark Hominick and Leonard Garcia, all three of which earned him performance of the night bonuses. He is also the only fighter in the UFC to record a twister submission when he defeated Leonard Garcia in March 2011.
Rodriguez is entering the fight off the back of a long layoff himself, with his last octagon appearance coming at UFC 211 in May 2017. He has had a tumultuous few months with the company which even included him being cut from the promotion for reportedly refusing to fight Zabit Magomedsharipov earlier this year.
Rodriguez was reinstated back into the UFC and another bout with Magomedsharipov was scheduled for UFC 228. Unfortunately, Rodriguez suffered a thorax injury forcing him out of the bout again, however he is now over his injury troubles and has stepped in on short notice to feature in the main event.
“El Pantera” is coming into the bout off a loss to Frankie Edgar at UFC 211 where he was dominated on the ground on route to a TKO defeat at the end of round 2 as the doctor deemed him unable to continue. Prior to the loss, The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America winner was riding a 6-fight undefeated streak in the UFC which included spectacular finishes over Andre Fili and BJ Penn.
The clash between Jung and Rodriguez is a fascinating one given the fact that they are both coming in off layoffs. Jung’s serious knee injury will be more of a worry than Rodriguez’s injury, and given the fact that The Korean Zombie has only fought once in the past 5 years there will be more concern with regards to him suffering ring rust than Rodriguez.
Despite that, I am going with Chan Sung Jung to win the encounter. Both fighters are taekwondo black belts however I feel that Rodriguez will dominate with his kicks from range with Jung getting the better of the inside exchanges if he can make it there without eating a kick or a knee on the way in. Both fighters are willing to get involved in crazy exchanges and have the power to knock one another out.
I do feel that The Korean Zombie possesses a better ground game than Rodriguez and if he can get it to the ground utilising his judo background I think he can lock on a submission in one of his trademark crazy scrambles.
Ultimately I think this fight will be a war, and a close one at that. I can see it going to the later rounds but I do eventually see Chan Sung Jung getting the fight to the mat and locking on a submission.
The Korean Zombie to win via sub round 4.