Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look ahead to the main event of UFC 230 as two division champion Daniel Cormier defends the heavyweight championship against surging contender Derrick Lewis at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Chan Sung Jung (Record: 14-4, -147 Favorite, Power Ranking: B-)
The former WEC featherweight turned UFC fighter has been one of the most exciting fighters in MMA since he made his debut stateside in 2010. Unfortunately for fight fans, the Korean Zombie has been limited in action due to injuries as well as mandatory military service in his native South Korea. Jung has only fought once in the last five years; a first round finish of Dennis Bermudez in February 2017.
An offensively gifted fighter, Chan Sung Jung “The Korean Zombie” has been a fan favorite for years. He’s a fighter who is more than willing to take damage in order to throw his own strikes. He’s gotten the zombie nickname because he can be hit and dropped, but he’ll always continue to press forward. The South Korean fighter enjoys being in a firefight and one can argue that’s where he is at his best. He lands 3.78 significant strikes per minute, but takes back nearly just as much as he throws absorbing 3.45 significant strikes per minute. While he loves to strike, where he has had his most success is in grappling situations. He has excellent submissions and is capable of syncing in a variety of submissions on opponents ranging from armbars to d’arce chokes to twisters. He’s won eight fights in his career by submission including a career defining win over Dustin Poirier. The major concern with Jung is the injuries. He’s had such limited action in the cage due to injuries that it’s so hard to predict just how he’ll fight when he makes it to the cage.
Yair Rodriguez (Record: 11-2, +117 Underdog, Power Ranking: B-)
The featherweight winner on the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter Latin America, Rodriguez was a rising star in the division from the onset. He had won six straight fights in the UFC before being tasked to fight former lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar. Rodriguez lost by doctor stoppage in that bout to set him back. His UFN 139 bout will be his first fight in a year and a half.
El Pantera brings his taekwondo-based approach into his third UFC main event. Rodriguez uses a rather unorthodox approach and is extremely aggressive on the feet with no fear of trying new attacks and coming forward at various angles. When Rodriguez fights, there’s a possibility one may see a maneuver never attempted in a UFC fight before. Whether it’s a type of spinning attack or a new type of kick, Rodriguez brings that kind of athleticism and excitement inside the cage. With each fight, Rodriguez has gained experience and built a more sturdy foundation . He has decent output at 3.86 significant strikes per minute, but does tend to have lulls in bouts where there will be inactivity. Defensively, he’s proven very difficult to hit absorbing just 2.59 significant strikes a minute. Rodriguez has an underrated wrestling game too; securing 1.3 takedowns per 15 minutes. He’s capable of winning on the feet as well as controlling opponents on the ground. At just 26 years of age, he’s entering his athletic prime. A win over Korean Zombie would set him up for top five opposition.
In the UFC’s 25th anniversary event in Denver, Colorado, the Korean Zombie returns as he faces “El Pantera” Yair Rodriguez in an international battle which should produce fireworks. Both featherweights are fan favorites that leave it all in the cage. Expect both fighters to come out on the front foot and bring the action to their opponent. Korean Zombie will have a more varied attack, while Rodriguez will utilize a heavy kicking game. This is a really tough fight to call. The Korean Zombie is a more well-rounded fighter with more ways to win, but given his long layoff it’s really hard to tell just where he is at. Sure, he had a nice win over Dennis Bermudez, but I thought he looked sluggish prior to the surprise finish. Rodriguez is younger, proven durable, and has more to prove. In a tough fight to call on paper, I like the intangibles for the Mexican featherweight and see him getting the victory; likely by finish. Given all the unknowns in this bout, this is a fight I cannot recommend a bet on.