Chan Sung Jung: UFC 163 Bout With Jose Aldo Stylistically “a Good Match-Up”
Thought Ricardo Lamas “Would Have Been First Choice” to Face Champ
By Kelsey Mowatt
As any MMA fan knows, often things don’t go according to plan in the sport, but sometimes plans dramatically change for the better. This is precisely, of course, what happened to Chan Sung Jung, who until not long ago, did not have the biggest fight of his life scheduled Saturday night.
Until last month, Anthony Pettis and not Jung, was set to fight featherweight champion Jose Aldo at UFC 163. Pettis incurred a knee injury, however, and although it was relatively minor, the promotion needed to find a replacement. It came calling on the popular fighter known as “The Korean Zombie.”
“At first I was really in disbelief about it, until Dana White actually announced I was going to be in the fight, I actually didn’t even believe it was true,” said Jung (13-3) during a recent media call to promote the August 3rd, UFC 163 card.
Part of the reason some observers were surprised to hear “TKZ” would challenge Aldo (22-1) next, was because he hasn’t fought since May, 2012, when he choked out Dustin Poirier. Since then, Ricardo Lamas has gone on to defeat Hatsu Hioki and most recently Erik Koch, who he stopped in brutal fashion at UFC on FOX 6 in January. Since Koch had also been booked to fight Aldo at one juncture, Lamas has also been knocking on the door for a title shot.
“To be honest with you, I thought that Lamas would have been the first choice as well,” said Jung. “I’m happy to have been chosen. I think that maybe what made the difference is that stylistically it’s a good match-up, and I think that this fight is going to be an exciting fight, which is probably one of the big reasons that I was chosen.
The win over Poirier was the 26 year-old’s third straight, and followed impressive victories over Leonard Garcia and former challenger Mark Hominick. Jung’s momentum came to a screeching halt last summer, however, when he had to undergo surgery to repair his damaged shoulder.
When he fights Aldo on Saturday night, over 14 months will have gone by since he last fought in the Octagon. The champion, meanwhile, fought at UFC 156 in February, and handed former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar a unanimous decision loss.
When asked if he’s concerned about the fact that his return will take place against one of the planet’s best, pound-for-pound fighters, Jung responded:
“No, not really,” said the South Korean fighter. “It gave me a lot of time to prepare, mentally and physically, to get my injuries all healed up. I think the time off actually helped benefit me.”
UFC 163 will be hosted by the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro and the main card will be broadcast via pay-per-view.