The UFC vacation on Fight Island continues Saturday on ESPN+ with “Ortega vs. The Korean Zombie,” a terrific clash of top-5 talent in the highly competitive featherweight division.
Chan Sung Jung -193 vs. Brian Ortega +160, featherweight (145 pounds)
Many UFC fans are aware of Ortega, especially after his devastating finish of Frankie Edgar in March 2018. Nine months later, Ortega faced Max Holloway for the featherweight championship in a fight that displayed Ortega’s tremendous toughness as well his substandard strike defense.
Ortega came from humble beginnings and has scratched from nothing to being the No. 4-ranked fighter in this division. As I assess his fight arsenal, however, I can’t help but feel that he has been somewhat overestimated based on that highlight KO of Edgar as well as some of the peripheral activities with which he has been involved the last several months.
Ortega’s forte is in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and he’s a savant at its application. But all fights begin on the feet, so the Ortega plan of action calls for taking this bout to the mat. To execute that, he’ll have to overcome his substantial time away from the octagon as well as a very capable opponent.
Ortega’s offensive striking is functional but not explosive, precise or fluid. His defense is his biggest area of concern, as was highlighted in that fight against Holloway.
Jung, “the Korean Zombie,” is the second-ranked featherweight contender. He is similar to many natural-born combat specialists from Russia who are bred and trained to become masters at hand-to-hand combat. He is decorated in judo, hapkido, BJJ and taekwondo.
“Zombie” is a misnomer as Jung is a mature, level-headed individual as opposed to the bloodthirsty image his nickname implies. In 2014, he interrupted his career for two years to serve in South Korea’s military, which showed his maturity and selflessness. This is a solid young man outside the cage and a bred destroyer inside it.
Jung is primarily a stand-up fighter who practices aggressive forward striking. But at times he can be wild with that attack, which can expose him to damage from capable counter-striking opponents — which Ortega is not.
The intrigue is how Ortega will manage a much more complete fighter in Jung. Jung will be able to compete with Ortega on the floor but will strive to utilize his 77 percent effective takedown defense to prevent the fight from getting there.
Jung must manage space against Ortega, and though he’s the shorter fighter, he’ll own a 3-inch reach advantage. That will allow him to target strikes and kicks on an opponent who permits an exorbitant 7.3 significant strikes per minute.
Jung opened -220, which was a fair opening number. It’s quite probable that Ortega’s movie-star looks, his beer commercials and the exposure he received from working with Halle Berry just after his Edgar domination have the market reacting favorably to Ortega.
Jung ITD (inside the distance), even money available in the market, is the recommendation.
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