It's been more than three years since we last saw Chan Sung Jung, better known as the "Korean Zombie," compete in the UFC. The South Korean's extended layoff was due to a mandatory military service in his native country.
The UFC is clearly pleased to have the 29-year-old featherweight back, as he's headlining Saturday's UFC Fight Night inside Toyota Center in Houston. Jung will meet fellow contender Dennis Bermudez in the five-round main event.
Let's take a close look at this 145-pound matchup, and take a shot at predicting the rest of the main card.
Dennis Bermudez (16-5) vs. Chan Sung Jung (13-4), Featherweight
Odds: Bermudez -200; Jung +170
Even if you've never seen Jung fight, you could probably get a sense of his style based on two hints: He's highly entertaining, and his wildly popular nickname is based on a fictional character who marches forward at all costs.
In other words, Jung ain't afraid to get hit. He keeps his hands noticeably low and is usually game for Rock'em Sock'em, if an opponent is willing. He also thrives in chaos. Jung can be awkward in the pocket as his punches come from unexpected angles, and as the Zombie moniker suggests, he can take a punch. That's probably not an advantage you should consistently rely on, but it is an advantage, nevertheless.
The fact that Jung hasn't fought since 2013 obviously throws a few wrinkles into handicapping this. He was never a small featherweight and told ESPN.com he added muscle during his time off. His takedown defense was never really a liability, but it also wasn't air tight. Keep an eye on Jung's counter left hook, which is one of his favorites, and his willingness to go to the body during exchanges.
Bermudez represents the best wrestler he will have fought to date. Basically, that's what Bermudez is, period.
He's a hard-hitting wrestler and a gifted natural athlete. He's got an explosive double leg, which opponents have to be constantly mindful of. Jung likes to walk forward, and he's not too shy about throwing lead leg kicks, but those two tendencies could make him vulnerable to Bermudez's takedowns. Jung does not want to be on his back during this matchup, as Bermudez does possess fight-altering ground and pound.
Ideally, Bermudez will want this on the floor. That doesn't mean he can't place an overhand right on Jung's chin -- in fact, that opportunity will more than likely present itself on several occasions -- but Jung's ability to handle Bermudez's grappling is a real question mark here, so expect Bermudez to test it.
One potential downside of Bermudez's quick twitch, blitzing style, however, is that it does require energy. Any fighter only has so many of those bursts in him before everything starts to slow down. Bermudez has gone the distance plenty of times in his career, but he's never went into a fourth or fifth round. Jung also brings a high pace, but one that's a little more steady and, most likely, more sustainable than Bermudez's. Should this thing drag into deep water, I'd favor Jung. Even with the layoff.
It would not be surprising to see Bermudez have his way early, especially as Jung knocks off the rust., but if Jung forces Bermudez to expend a good deal of energy in doing so, he could definitely instigate his type of firefight later on.
Prediction: Bermudez via decision
Here's a look at the rest of the card:
Alexa Grasso (9-0) vs. Felice Herrig (11-6), strawweight: Grasso made a successful UFC debut against Heather Jo Clark late last year and will command her share of the spotlight as long as the wins keep coming. Her technical striking should stand out against Herrig. Prediction: Grasso via decision.
James Vick (9-1) vs. Abel Trujillo (15-6), lightweight: Even matchmaking here. Trujillo has an advantage in power and sheer intimidation, but Vick is an underrated lightweight with arguably more ways to win. Tough call. Prediction: Vick via decision.
Ovince St. Preux (19-9) vs. Volkan Oezdemir (12-1), light heavyweight: The time of referring to 'OSP' as a legitimate title contender is probably over for good, but he should still have enough in him to defeat this UFC newcomer, who took the bout on short notice. Prediction: St. Preux by submission, first round
Anthony Hamilton (15-6) vs. Marcel Fortuna (8-1), heavyweight: There's been a lot of feast or famine for Hamilton through seven contests. He's looking at a unique heavyweight opponent in Fortuna, who has five career submissions, but zero knockouts. Prediction: Hamilton via knockout, second round
Jessica Andrade (15-5) vs. Angela Hill (6-2), strawweight: By now, Hill is used to fighting with a sizeable disadvantage in experience. That will be the case once again here, on a night in which she's the biggest betting underdog on the card. Prediction: Andrade via TKO, second round