It was far from the most thrilling zombie movie ever made. And that earns Chan Sung Jung a glowingly positive review.
At no point during Saturday's UFC main event was Jung put through the horrors that we've come to expect from the indestructible career of the man best known as "The Korean Zombie." He was poised, methodical, efficient and never in trouble in winning a unanimous decision over Dan Ige at UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
That bodes well for the future of the 34-year-old from South Korea and his hopes of getting a second shot at the UFC men's featherweight championship.
Jung has given MMA fans plenty of excitement through the years. This was his eighth straight main event, and it ended up being his first victory to go the distance since way back in 2008. Since then, Jung has ended every win by either knockout or submission, with the latter being his route to victory in a 2012 finish of Dustin Poirier that propelled Jung into a challenge of then-champion Jose Aldo. That title fight didn't go Jung's way, and he's been in pursuit of another one ever since.
He appeared to be on the verge of a second chance last October, when he faced Brian Ortega in what was ostensibly a No. 1 contender showdown. But Ortega fully controlled that fight and now is coaching on The Ultimate Fighter against champion Alexander Volkanovski, with a title bout soon to come. Jung, meanwhile, was left to earn his way back into contention, and Saturday night was a promising first step.
Whether Jung has what it takes to win the belt or even get a second shot at it remains to be seen, but one thing is sure: He has a much better chance by fighting the way he fought on Saturday night than he would by being the Zombie of old.
Ige had called him out, having watched Jung put on never-say-die performances again and again over the years. Ige had a plan for how to stop that guy, but he did not appear to have an answer for the Jung who walked into the cage smiling, an indication of how loose and flowing the South Korean would be for the five rounds to come. Jung left few openings, and when he found one in Ige, he seized upon it.
The bout was not one-sided. The judges scored it 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47, all for Jung, but Ige landed his shots. He just never was able to turn his opponent into the Zombie. Jung was too calm and on point for that.
"I wanted to show all the skills and the capability of being champion," Jung said.
Jung's boxing was smooth, from his footwork and head movement to the sharp, straight punches he landed. His takedowns were timely and effective, and once he had the fight on the canvas, he was able to gain dominant positions and several times threaten to add Ige to his string of finishes. Jung fought a smart fight, which is the kind of fight he will have to employ if he ever gets within grabbing distance of a gold belt.
Some might mourn the disappearance of the Zombie, but true fight fans might soon learn that this man can deliver a thrill a minute even when he's not plodding forward like the undead. The plot thickens.
-- Jeff Wagenheim
Brett Okamoto on who's next for ...
Chan Sung Jung: Has to be Calvin Kattar, right? Jung was already the No. 4 ranked featherweight contender going into Saturday, so it's not much of a gift to give him the No. 5 ranked Kattar after an impressive showing against Ige ... but I don't think he'll get a better option.
The former champion, Max Holloway, is still ahead of him in terms of getting a title shot. Brian Ortega, who Jung lost five rounds to in October, is still awaiting his shot against champion Alexander Volkanovski. Where does that leave Jung, even after a solid win? Kattar hasn't fought since his five-round loss to Holloway in January, and he's been targeting a fall return. This is the fight to make. Again, it probably won't feel like much of a step up for Jung, but he's not quite deserving of a title shot yet.
Dan Ige: Before anything, a nice break. Ige fought in March and was looking to take some time off to celebrate the birth of his son in April, but ended up accepting this opportunity and jumping right back into camp. Let the 29-year-old enjoy fatherhood for a minute. And when he returns, there is no shortage of options. Josh Emmett, Arnold Allen, Sodiq Yusuff ... those are all fights that not only make sense, but they are fantastic style matchups, too.
There is one that stands out, though: Shane Burgos, who is coming off a loss to Edson Barboza a month ago in Houston. Two guys who hit like trucks at 145, but who are both coming off a loss. It makes the most sense, and it also happens to be the most appealing matchup, in my opinion.
Results by Okamoto:
Spivak, of Ukraine, managed to get past Oleinik via unanimous decision, although he was very nearly choked out in the second round.
Spivak picked up unanimous 29-28 scores in a heavyweight fight that was pretty easy to score -- but only after he was saved by the bell in the middle frame. Oleinik moved to full mount with 15 seconds left in the round and nearly secured an arm-triangle choke.
Beyond that scare, however, it was Spivak's fight. He did well defending Oleinik's takedown attempts in the opening round, and took advantage of his 43-year-old opponent's fatigue in the third. Spivak worked behind the jab and the right hand to clearly outstrike Oleinik on the feet.
It was not a riveting win for Spivak, 26, but it extends his winning streak to three. For Oleinik, it marks his third loss in a row, which is the longest skid of his career.
Making his 17th UFC appearance, Vera showcased a little bit of everything en route to a convincing decision win over Grant.
Judges scored the fight 30-26, 29-27 and 29-28 for Vera as he bested Grant on the feet and on the ground. He very nearly secured a rear-naked choke in the final minute of the bantamweight fight before ultimately settling on the decision -- a nice result following a loss to Jose Aldo his last time out.
Grant, of England, opened the fight loose and looked a little more comfortable than Vera early. He opened up with leg and body kicks, while Vera looked to find his rhythm. Even so, Grant failed to land anything significant and it didn't take long for Vera to start putting his own leg kicks to use later in the round.
Vera, who was born in Ecuador and fights out of California, really started to take control in the second round. He opened a cut near Grant's hairline with standing elbows and continued to rely on leg kicks. After Grant secured a potentially big takedown, Vera threatened with a triangle attempt and moved to top position.
Both fighters earned $50,000 for fight-of-the-night honors.
Immediately after the bout, Vera called out former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, who was working cageside as a play-by-play commentator.
After starting his UFC career 0-2, South Korea's Choi is now on a three-fight winning streak.
Choi landed his first knockout in the UFC over Erosa, and it was emphatic. The 28-year-old dropped Erosa with a left hook to the chin and finished the featherweight bout with hammerfists at 1:07 of the first round. Erosa quickly got up and protested the stoppage, but it was obviously the right call by referee Mark Smith.
Choi signed with the UFC in 2019, and drew back-to-back tough assignments against Movsar Evloev and Gavin Tucker. Choi lost those fights via decision and rear-naked choke, respectively. Since then, however, Choi has posted wins against Suman Mokhtarian, Youssef Zalal and now Erosa. Choi earned $50,000 for a performance-of-the-night bonus.
Erosa, who trains out of Washington and has fought in and out of the UFC since 2015, had a two-fight win streak snapped.
Turman worked very hard to get Silva to the ground in the opening round of their middleweight fight. In retrospect, that might have been the wrong strategy.
Silva, of Paraiba, Brazil, knocked Turman out with strikes on the ground at the 4:45 mark of the fight. The finish came after Turman spent the entire first round trying to take Silva down. Turman shot on Silva repeatedly in the opening minutes and did manage to take his back at one point, before ending up on the bottom.
Silva, who was making his UFC debut, remained calm in the grappling exchanges, even when Turman slammed him to the canvas on multiple occasions. After Turman took his back while the two were still on their feet midway through the round, Silva escaped and ended up on his knees in Turman's guard.
From there, Silva unleashed some nasty ground and pound that put Turman out cold. Silva is now 17-0 in fights that end via knockout, with 12 of those ending inside the first round.
Matt Brown sends Dhiego Lima face-first into the canvas
Matt Brown knocks out Dhiego Lima with one punch and immediately knows it.
Add another clip to Matt "The Immortal" Brown's highlight reel.
Brown, 40, landed a crushing right hand on Lima at 3:02 of the second round for a walk-off, one-punch knockout. The shot folded up Lima immediately, and Brown walked away before referee Herb Dean even had a chance to intervene.
MOST WELTERWEIGHT WINS - UFC History— UFC News (@UFCNews) June 19, 2021
19 - George St-Pierre
18 - Neil Magny
16 - Matt Hughes
16 - Matt Brown (@IAmTheImmortal)
MOST FINISHES - UFC History
17 - Charles Oliveira
16 - Donald Cerrone
14 - Vitor Belfort
14 - Anderson Silva
14 - Matt Brown#UFCVegas29
The knockout marked Brown's first win since December 2019, and it didn't necessarily come easy. Lima, of Golas, Brazil, landed several very hard calf kicks in the opening round, which visibly caught Brown's attention. Brown looked to push the tempo and get in close in the second round to avoid the kicks.
Lima did well peeling away from Brown's attempts to close the distance and looked well positioned to continue attacking the leg. The fight changed on a dime, however, once Brown landed the crushing right hand.
After winning three in a row between 2018 and 2019, Lima has now dropped his last two. Brown bounces back from losses to Miguel Baeza and Carlos Condit and earned $50,000 for a performance-of-the-night bonus.
Negumereanu would simply not be denied his first UFC win as he walked Camur down and forced him into heavy exchanges over the course of three rounds.
From the opening bell, it was obvious that Camur, a teammate of former UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic in Cleveland, wanted to use footwork and angles to stay one step ahead of his plodding 205-pound opponent. Negumereanu refused to take his foot off the gas though, and cut off the cage on Camur at every opportunity.
The result was a back-and-forth fight on the feet that saw both men have success. Camur did well slipping punches and landing counters at times, but he was susceptible to Negumereanu drawing him into a brawl. Camur landed with a little more consistency, but Negumereanu landed the most significant shots.
The hardest strike of the fight might have occurred in the third round, when Negumereanu wobbled Camur with an overhand right after changing levels on a takedown. Camur survived but stopped throwing punches for an extended period of time.
Negumereanu received several warnings for holding onto the fence to keep Camur trapped in the clinch, but referee Mike Beltran opted to not take a point. He did sternly warn Negumereanu for the infraction near the end of the third round.
A standout on Contender Series in 2019, the 25-year-old Camur falls to 1-2 in the UFC. Negumereanu, of Romania, picks up his first win since 2018.
Jandiroba, of Bahia, Brazil, picked up a TKO victory at the end of the second round -- although the fight probably could have been stopped even sooner.
The strawweight fight ended between the second and third rounds when a ringside physician ruled Murata, of Tokyo, couldn't continue due to an injured left arm. Murata's arm was obviously compromised the entire second frame after Jandiroba caught her in a deep armbar attempt at the end of the first round.
Murata couldn't even lift the arm above her waist to defend herself after that initial round, but neither her corner nor the referee stopped the contest. Immediately after the fight, Jandiroba said she felt Murata's arm "pop" multiple times during the armbar attempt.
It was a dominant performance by Jandiroba overall, and she rebounded from a loss to Mackenzie Dern her last time out. She hurt Murata with right hands in the first minute of the bout, before injuring Murata's arm on the floor. She is now 3-1 in her last four.
Coming off his first loss in the UFC, Williams strung together an impressive 15 minutes to get back into the win column against a very game Semelsberger.
Williams, of Detroit, defeated Semelsberger via unanimous decision by scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28. His speed and power had an effect early as he bloodied Semelsberger's nose and mouth in the opening round. But Semelsberger showed heart and challenged Williams on the feet through the final bell.
According to UFC Stats, Williams outlanded Semelsberger in total strikes 108 to 56. He repeatedly blitzed forward with flurries to score points, although he occasionally walked into right-hand counters from Semelsberger. Semelsberger also did some of his best work with kicks to Williams' lead left leg, which clearly bothered Williams by the end of the fight.
Ultimately though, Williams' boxing prevailed and he improved his UFC record to 3-1. His only loss came against Michel Pereira in his last fight in December.
Parisian, a Contender Series alum, picked up his first UFC win in a heavyweight bout that turned into a war of attrition. Parisian, 31, and Martinez, 35, regularly exchanged punches and knees in the clinch and at boxing range throughout. It was very back and forth, as shown by the scores. Two judges had it 29-28 for Parisian, another saw it 29-28 for Martinez.
Martinez, of Guam, showed good pressure on the feet, particularly in the opening round. He threw punches to move into the clinch, and cut Parisian under his left eye early in the fight.
Parisian adapted to the pressure in the second and third rounds, however, and did a better job mixing up his strikes. His knees to the body were very effective, as were his front kick and elbows over the top. Martinez continued to work and land winging punches. The third round was razor close.
Parisian joined the UFC last year and lost his promotional debut to Parker Porter in November.
Ricky Glenn knocks out Joaquim Silva in return to Octagon
In his first fight since 2018, Ricky Glenn makes quick work of Joaquim Silva with a knockout in Round 1.
Glenn, of Marshalltown, Iowa, has been fighting professionally for nearly 15 years. Saturday's knockout might have been his best yet.
Glenn, 32, made quick work of Silva as he put the Brazilian out with punches just 37 seconds into their lightweight bout. It was Glenn's first finish in the UFC, and first overall since 2016.
The finish came shortly after Glenn hurt Silva badly with a counter left hand, as Silva came forward with punches. Silva managed to bounce back up but was still hurt, and referee Mike Beltran stepped in after Glenn dropped him again with a short uppercut.
It was a welcome result for Glenn, who hadn't competed since November 2018 due to injury and a positive COVID-19 test in December.
Australian flyweight prospect O'Neill remained undefeated with an impressive upset win over Brazil's Procopio.
O'Neill, who was born in Scotland but fights out of Australia, submitted Procopio via rear-naked choke at the 2:54 mark of the third round. O'Neill has now finished both of the opponents she's faced in the UFC. She scored a TKO against Shana Dobson in February.
The submission capped off a very complete showing by the 23-year-old O'Neill, who has only been fighting professionally since 2019. After a competitive opening round that took place primarily on the feet, O'Neil settled into her ground game, with elbows from top position and the submission finish.
Procopio, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, was actually the one who first looked to take things to the ground. But O'Neill proved to be quite comfortable there, and made Procopio pay on multiple occasions with strikes on the ground and strikes in the clinch after defending takedown attempts.