By: Chris Taylor
Dubbed the ‘Korean Zombie’, Chan Sung Jung is one of the fastest rising stars in the UFC. His popularity can be attributed to his fight style, which involves Chan constantly moving forward and always looking to finish the fight. He has won “fight of the year” and “submission of the year” awards for his battles with Leonard Garcia. But it wasn’t until Chan defeated Dustin Poirier this past May, that he truly solidified himself as a legitimate threat to Jose Aldo’s featherweight belt. I had the chance to talk with Chan about his latest victory, Jose Aldo, travel expenses, zombie movies and much more… Here’s what the Korean Zombie had to say:
Chris: Hey Chan. First off I want to say congratulations on your win May 15th, a truly amazing performance that saw you submit a very game Dustin Poirier! Have you had time to watch the fight since the event? If so, what were your thoughts after watching?
Chan: Thanks Chris, I appreciate it! I don’t know how many times I’ve watched the fight at this point. My thoughts are mixed about the fight… On one hand, I’m pretty happy that I was able to showcase more of my abilities than I was in previous fights. In the last year or so, after my K.O. loss to George Roop, I’ve been working hard on developing my all around game. I wanted to break out of the image of being just a brawler. So, in that regard, I think the fight went well. It was definitely the toughest challenge of my career! On the other hand, I was dealing with some injuries during my camp, so I wasn’t really able to prepare the way that I wanted to. For a good part of my camp, I couldn’t even hit the pads, because of my shoulder. There was so much more that I wanted to work on for this fight. I lost a lot of size and wasn’t feeling at peak form before the fight. However, by the time the fight came around, I was ready to go!
Chris: The chants of ‘Zombie’ echoed through the arena that Tuesday night, are you at all shocked at the massive popularity you have received from fans of the sport? They were sold out of your t-shirts online when I last checked haha.
Chan: I feel honored to have the fans that I do. I have received so much support from MMA fans around the world, especially since I joined Zuffa. I’m glad to hear that the shirts are selling well! TrauMMA Combat has been really great to deal with so far, so I definitely recommend that my fans support the new shirt.
Chris: Your game seems to be ever evolving, what do you attribute your most recent success to?
Chan: If you want to be the best, you have to keep pushing yourself and working on new skills, as well as continue to improve on the skills that you already have. I’m always looking to add new elements to my skillset. In modern MMA, you can’t just get to a certain level skill-wise and then try to maintain that. Fighters are getting better and better, so if you don’t evolve along with the sport, you’ll be left behind. Also, I can’t thank my team enough. My teammates and coaches are always giving it their all to help the fighters that are getting ready for competition. Having guys like Dongi Yang, Hyun Gyu Lim, and Jangyong Kim around to push me and challenge me is a huge part of my success as a fighter.
Chris: You have now won 3 fights in a row, beating 2 top contenders in the process. I know you said you want Aldo next, has the UFC spoken to you about doing this fight since the event?
Chan: Immediately after the fight, Dana White said that I would be fighting the winner of the Aldo vs. Koch fight. As far as I know, that’s still the case. Of course, we don’t know who’s going to be the winner for sure, but I mentioned Jose Aldo because he’s the current champ. It’s the champ that I’m aiming for.
Chris: How much would it mean for you to fight for the title in your homeland of Korea? I know you have been very vocal about your desire for the UFC to do an event there.
Chan: Fighting for a title would be incredible. For myself and for Korean MMA. I think that it would be a huge boost for the popularity of the UFC in Korea. MMA in Korea is at a crucial point right now, so having the title fight in Korea could really push the UFC to prominence here. It’s tough to go from Korea to the US, flying for 17 hours in coach class, having to deal with the time difference… On top of that, there are the expenses. Just having to pay for sparring partners to fly over, as well as room and board for the extra week or two early that we go in. The expenses can be more than my fight money! There are so many things that make it tough for Korean fighters fighting in the US. It would be great if I didn’t have to deal with that for once! I’d really like Dana White and the UFC to know the sorts of things that Asian fighters have to deal with when fighting in the US.
Chris: Former Sengoku featherweight champion, Hatsu Hioki, was apparently offered to fight Jose Aldo (Prior to Koch) but turned down the fight. I wanted to know what your thoughts were on Hatsu not accepting that fight, considering he was thought to be the top contender at the time.
Chan: I’ve seen Hatsu Hioki around since my days competing in Japan. He’s a very skilled fighter and a nice guy. As far as his ranking goes, I don’t really concern myself with those things. That’s not something that I can control, so I try not to worry about it. Whether any fighter takes or turns down a fight is up to them. It’s a choice that they have to make for themselves. Only that person knows whether they’re prepared, so I’m sure he probably made the right choice for himself.
Chris: You received 2 bonuses for the win over Dustin Poirier, is there anything special you plan on doing with the extra earnings?
Chan: I’m planning not to spend it! I always try to save as much of my winnings as possible.
Chris: I know you spend a lot of your time training, but what does the Korean Zombie do with his spare time? Any hobbies or other sports?
Chan: I don’t really have any hobbies. MMA is my life, so even when I’m not training, I still spend a lot of time at the gym, teaching classes, working at the counter, etc.
Chris: I have to ask this… Are you a fan of zombie movies and if so which is your favorite?
Chan: Yeah, I like a lot of zombie movies. “Dawn of the Dead” is probably my favorite, but I like “28 Days Later”, “28 Weeks Later” and “Land of the Dead”. I really like “The Walking Dead”, too.
Chris: Awesome! Well thanks again for doing this Chan. I can’t wait to see you fight the winner of Koch vs Aldo and I think it would be awesome if the UFC could set you up to fight in Korea! All the best to you my friend! Any last words from the ‘Korean Zombie’ for your fans?
Chan: Thanks to all of my fans, supporters and sponsors!
Tags: Chan Sung Jung, Dana White, Dustin Poirier, Erik Koch, featured, Hatsu Hioki, Jose Aldo, Leonard Garcia, MMA NEWS, ufc news, ufc on fuel tv