Nine years removed from his first title challenge, against Jose Aldo at UFC 163 in 2013, The Korean Zombie has again come up short in a bid for gold.
In the main event of UFC 273, Zombie (born Chan Sung Jung, but who prefers to go by his undead-inspired nickname) wound up finished in the fourth round by reigning champ Alexander Volkanovski.
On the one hand, Australia’s Volkanovski is quickly entering the conversation as one of the all-time featherweight greats. And to be fair, Zombie was never even supposed to be in the fight, taking it on relatively short notice after Max Holloway was forced out of a March date against the champ.
On the other hand, Zombie was defeated, violently, and at 35, his days of chasing the title may very well be over. The South Korean star acknowledged as much in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, although his translator failed to relay the message.
A number of Korean speaking fight fans, including Jay Caspian Kang of the New York Times, picked up on it, however. “I now know I can’t be UFC champion,” Kang reported Zombie as saying.
Pretty sure zombie’s translator left out him saying ‘I now know I can’t be UFC champion’ which I think is merciful
— kang (@jaycaspiankang) April 10, 2022
Other users added that the defeated featherweight said he needed to think about what he’s fighting for moving forward.
That brings The Korean Zombie’s very career into question — though if he chooses to continue on, there’s no doubt still some compelling, fun fights to be had for the two-time title challenger.
Since returning from mandatory military service in his native South Korea in 2017, Zombie has posted a 4-3 record inside the octagon. That includes wins over former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar, as well as Dan Ige, and losses to Brian Ortega and now Volkanovski.
Zombie began his pro career in 2007, and joined the WEC in 2010. When that promotion was gobbled up by the UFC a short time later, The Korean Zombie made an immediate impact in his promotional debut, hitting a rarely-seen twister submission on an old rival, Leonard Garcia. It was the first victory of a three-fight win streak that took The Korean Zombie all the way to a title shot.