The UFC’s official rankings are often viewed with a skeptical eye. But rarely is criticism of the promotion’s standings more warranted than with The Korean Zombie and Brian Ortega, two key components of the featherweight division.
Despite being inactive since December 2018, Ortega remains ranked second in the weight class. The Korean Zombie (Chan Sung Jung, who actually prefers to go by his nickname), is ranked fourth. That, despite having two finishes against high level competition (Renato Moicano and Frankie Edgar) in the time Ortega has been sitting out.
Heading into UFC Fight Island 6 this weekend, where the pair meet in the main event, it’s certainly puzzling.
Zombie (16-5) for one believes “the ranking system should be flipped,” he told Cageside Press, speaking via translator at a virtual media day on Wednesday. “I should be number two, Brian should be number four. But either way, I look as it as, I’ve got to go ahead and beat the guys in front of me to become champion, so that’s what I’m going to do.”
There are two obvious considerations heading into the pair’s featherweight showdown on Saturday. One is Ortega’s long layoff, in part due to injury. The other is the personal nature of the fight, something that arose due to a confrontation between Ortega and Korean rapper/Zombie associate Jay Park, at UFC 248.
Zombie downplayed both issues on Wednesday. For starters, he doesn’t believe Ortega’s nearly two-year absence will detract from his performance this weekend. “Brian’s going to be hungry to actually get in the cage and prove his worth,” the former title challenger suggested. Which is how the Korean Zombie himself felt after his own extended layoff due to military service in his native South Korea, which saw him out from 2014 to 2017.
On the beef that erupted between the two when Ortega slapped Jay Park at UFC 248, in retaliation for comments Park made online, Zombie said simply that he doesn’t have anything personal towards Brian Ortega. “Having any animosity or anything toward Brian is not going to help me in the cage. So I’m putting that aside, treating him as Brian Ortega the fighter as opposed to Brian Ortega the individual,” he stated.
While Ortega eventually apologized at the time, he’s more recently been more dismissive of the incident, referring to it as “just a slap” and reiterating that Park, a non-fighter, had been talking trash online.
Zombie admits that he doesn’t like what Ortega did to his friend, as an individual. But at the same time, as a fighter, he “can’t take it into the cage.” Instead, since the beginning of fight camp, he’s focused on what he needs to get accomplished this weekend. “It’s not for Jay, it’s not for anyone else, it’s complete business.”
And with that in mind, The Korean Zombie is going into the octagon Saturday at UFC Fight Island 6 to do his job.
Watch the full UFC Fight Island 6 virtual media day scrum with The Korean Zombie above.