UFC Singapore: Heavy Hearted Holloway Faces Resilient Zombie in Legacy Bout

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - AUGUST 22: (L-R) Opponents Max Holloway and 'The Korean Zombie' Chan Sung Jung of South Korea face off ahead of their fight at Sentosa Resort on August 22, 2023 in Singapore. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Max Holloway is looking to deliver a huge morale boost for his home state of Hawaii as he faces a fan-favorite who could possibly be in his final bout in The Korean Zombie at UFC Singapore.

Saturday’s main event for the longtime champion is not about the usual talking points. Yes, Max Holloway is still the consensus second best featherweight in the world and he would remain in a highly regarded position with another victory.  But recent events are more prevalent to the “Blessed” one.  Since rising to prominence, he has been one of the Hawaii’s most highly regarded ambassadors as the homegrown pride of Waianae on the island of O’ahu.  Recent wildfires that ravaged the island Maui this month have made Holloway’s upcoming fight about more than another key bout in his career.  He enters looking to provide a boost in morale as his walk out and out of the ordinary (for him) red shorts will be in tribute to those affected.

Competitively, the match up feels as much a battle against complacency as much as it is against another man. Coming off a victory over fellow top contender Arnold Allen, it would be easy to say that Holloway is pursuing one of the smaller pieces on the featherweight chessboard as his opponent has mentioned a possible retirement following their fight.  With the King having eluded Holloway’s capture, the Zombie is amongst the few contenders he can turn his sights towards along with Giga Chikadze (who fights on the undercard) and prospect turned contender Ilia Topuria.  While Holloway has not shown signs of slowing down yet, every night remains precarious as he looks to remain at the top of the division if he hopes to get back into the title picture if there’s a change in the status quo.

For Chan Sung Jung, affectionately better known as “The Korean Zombie” to fans, Saturday’s headliner feels like the perfect curtain call if he elects to take it.  Following the disheartening loss in the title match against Alexander Volkanovski last spring, Jung acknowledged the struggle of reaching the belt and that he would have to reassess his motivations for competing if the ultimate prize was out of reach.  This week, Jung addressed the future by saying that his performance against Holloway would determine whether or not he felt he should continue in his career.  While his 2-2 run that includes a title fight against the best in the world is not the most alarming on paper by any means, it would feel as if the fight game has caught up to him abruptly if Saturday’s bout is one-sided in favor of his opponent once again.

If it is the end, or if this chapter of his story continues, then it is important to remember the run for “The Korean Zombie”.  Since a breakout performance in the WEC in 2010, Jung has been a fan-favorite who has victories over the likes of Frankie Edgar, Dustin Poirier, and Mark Hominick.  An exciting slugger who also proved his submission prowess when he recorded the first Twister in UFC history, Jung withdrew from competition to serve in the South Korean military at the height of his first UFC run in 2013.  When he returned in 2017, he went on a 4-3 run that saw first round finishes in three of his four victories.

A victory for Holloway would leave him in an interesting place in the division.  The winner of the fight between Giga Chikadze and Alex Caceres earlier on the card stands out as arguably the best candidate for a fight, but a possible move back up to lightweight for Alexander Volkanovski could see a change up where Holloway might face top contender Ilia Topuria.  Should “The Korean Zombie” pull off the upset, Chikadze or Caceres are his most likely opponents as well.