UFC Vegas 29: Will Zombie Rise Again or Will Ige Break Through?

Korean Zombie UFC Fight Island 6
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - OCTOBER 18: (R-L) ‘The Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung battles Brian Ortega in their featherweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on October 18, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Can the “Korean Zombie” deliver a performance to get back to the upper-echelon of the featherweight division? Or will Dan Ige have his career breakthrough at UFC Vegas 29?

More so than most other sports, mixed martial arts can be cruel.  For Chan Sung Jung, better known as “The Korean Zombie,” that has been the case in the last two years.  Despite a chance to seemingly lock in a title shot in 2018 and 2020, Jung came up short in brutal fashion on both occasions.  First, he was handed a devastating defeat in the final second against Yair Rodriguez, and last year he was shut out against Brian Ortega in one of the more anticipated bouts of past twelve months.

For a fighter who has been in the public consciousness since 2010 and already fought for the UFC title once in 2013 as a replacement, Jung finds himself in a precarious position.  At 34 years old, there is question of when he might begin to experience a drop off in his abilities.  Furthermore, with losses to two fighters already ranked ahead of him, another stumble could see him drop out of the title picture completely as new contenders emerge.

If the Zombie is looking to keep his place amongst in the division, “50k” Dan Ige is looking to take it.  Last year, he was looking to make the jump as he took on hard-hitting Calvin Kattar in his first UFC main event.  Ige was routed by decision and lost out on a high profile opportunity as Kattar went on to a match-up with former champion Max Holloway.  The loss also snapped the six fight win-streak that Ige had put together.

By the numbers, it is arguable that Dan Ige is the most successful Dana White’s Contender Series alumnus in the show’s short history.  Saturday will also provide him another opportunity to become the first alumni from the show to win a UFC main event.  That said, a loss would put him at 1-1 and likely taking a step back in competition as he is already making a leap as he is ranked eighth and Jung is ranked fourth.

Stylistically, the explosive Jung will be tested against the speed and volume of Ige.  The Hawaiian is coming off a 22 second knockout, but a slugfest is not recommended against the proven stopping power of the Korean Zombie.  Instead, Ige should look to use his movement and a multifaceted attack to overwhelm Jung with volume.  Jung must push forward and keep Ige with his back to the fence as it will stifle his offense.  Most importantly, he must not get lured into waiting for Ige as he runs the risk of falling behind on the scorecards.

The winner of this fight is likely to wait to see what high profile match-up materializes.  While it would make sense that they get another highly ranked opponent, the current schedule could see them have to wait for such a contender to become available considering Max Holloway is out of his fight against Yair Rodriguez and the title fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega has yet to be scheduled.  Should the UFC go in another direction, the resurgent Edson Barboza or surging Giga Chikadze also figure to be options for this Saturday’s victor.