Dubbed the ‘Korean Zombie’, Chan Sung Jung (13-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC) 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. Jung has won “fight of the year” and “submission of the year” awards for his battles with Leonard Garcia, but it wasn’t until he defeated Dustin Poirier in May of 2012, that he truly solidified himself as a legitimate threat to Jose Aldo’s featherweight belt. After submitting Poirier, Jung decided to undergo shoulder surgery in July to correct an issue that had been plaguing him for quite some time. I had the chance to talk with ‘KZ’ about his injury, his upcoming bout with Ricardo Lamas at UFC 162 and much more:
Chris: Hey Chan thanks again for taking the time to talk with us here at bjpenn.com, first off how is your shoulder doing? I know you had surgery on it back in July of 2012, is it back to feeling 100% now?
Jung: Thank you. It’s good to talk with you again! My shoulder’s doing okay. I wouldn’t say it’s perfect, but I’m training without any problems.
Chris: I heard that in your last bout you actually fought Dustin Poirier while injured, is this true?
Jung: Yes, that’s true. I had a tear in my rotator cuff. The doctors wanted me to get surgery before the fight, but I chose not to. It was pretty bad… I couldn’t hit mitts at all for the last month of training, etc. I was in a lot of pain. But, injuries are part of being a fighter.
Chris: Was there any particular reason that you chose to fight with the injury?
Jung: The biggest reason was that the fight was the main event on the card. It was a first for me and the first time a Korean fighter has ever been the main event in the UFC. It was really a matter of pride, so the thought of pulling out of the fight wasn’t even there. I also knew that fighting a guy like Poirier would make for fireworks.
Chris: What has been the hardest part in regards to dealing with your injury and the rehab required to recover?
Jung: I think it’s the same for any athlete… It’s the desire to train, to fight, but not be able to. Especially with all of the action that’s been going on in the featherweight division these days. Being on the sidelines has been a test of my patience! It’s also been good, because I’m really focused and motivated for this next fight.
Chris: You are booked to make your return to the octagon at UFC 162 in July against Ricardo Lamas. How excited are you to finally get back in the cage?
Jung: Very excited of course. It’s all I’ve been thinking about since the surgery. Originally, I was hoping for an immediate title shot after the Poirier fight, in which case, I would have put off the surgery again. Since that didn’t happen, I opted to get the surgery. To come back off this long lay off, against a guy who’s beaten most of the top fighters in the division… Yeah, I’m very excited. I think that the winner of this fight should get the next title shot.
Chris: Are there any areas of Lamas’ MMA game that you see as being weak or where you feel you would have an advantage over him?
Jung: I don’t see any real weaknesses in his game. He’s very well rounded. He has a strong all-around game. BUT, I feel like I have an edge on him in each aspect of the game. Whether it’s standing, or on the ground, I think I have the advantage.
Chris: If you are victorious against Lamas at UFC 162, is there a preference in regards to whom you would rather face next, Pettis or Aldo?
Jung: Aldo. First off, I feel kind of like Pettis “cut in line”. But, the main reason is that Aldo has been the champ since the WEC days. He’s seen as unbeatable, so for several different reasons, it would mean more to me to fight, and beat, Jose Aldo.
Chris: How upset were you when you heard that Anthony Pettis, who went 3-1 in the UFC’s lightweight division, was being granted an immediate title shot after deciding to drop down in weight to 145lbs?
Jung: I disagree with the choice. It’s not as though I feel like I should be the one fighting Aldo, either. It’s just that Pettis hasn’t really earned a place in the division yet. I think that Lamas, myself or even some other guys should’ve gotten the title shot before Pettis.
Chris: Did you feel the same way when Frankie Edgar was given an immediate shot at Aldo?
Jung: Not exactly. That situation was a little different. Originally, Edgar wasn’t given an immediate title shot at featherweight. He was supposed to have a fight before Aldo, but Koch got injured, Mendes had just lost to Aldo, there weren’t a lot of choices at that point, so Edgar wasn’t a bad choice in those circumstances.
Chris: If given the opportunity to choose, would you prefer a main event slot at a UFC event in Asia or at a USA-based event?
Jung: My first choice would be to headline an event in Korea. The UFC absolutely needs to come here and take advantage of the Korean market. It could be their best foothold in the Asian market, they really need to get in here and put on some events. Korean MMA is getting better and better and if the UFC were to come here, things would get even better! Outside of Korea, I like fighting in the US, because the fans are great and the scale of things is so much bigger. I don’t like the battle with jetlag at all, but I do like fighting for the great fans in the US.
Chris: Well thanks again for your time Chan, any last words for your fans or for your UFC 162 opponent Ricardo Lamas?
Jung: I’m excited to see you all again. In my 3 UFC fights, I’ve somehow managed to pull off something interesting, so expect to see more good stuff. I don’t know what’s going to happen in this fight, but I guarantee that I’ll go out there and fight my heart out. No regrets!
The key featherweight match-up between Chan Sung Jung (13-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC) and Ricardo Lamas (13-2 MMA, 4-0 UFC) goes down on the main card of UFC 162, which takes place July 6 live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.